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UK Two-Year Graduate Visa Set To Remain

The government has announced its plans to retain the UK Graduate Route, to the relief of higher education officials and international students

Tue May 28 2024

On May 23rd the UK Home Office confirmed plans to retain the Graduate Route, a popular two-year graduate visa, despite government talks that it may be be abolished.

This comes on the back of the recent MAC survey which recommended that the Graduate Route be kept after finding no evidence that the system was being abused by international students, as claimed by the Home Office in a recent letter. 

Instead, the Home Office has revealed new plans to crack down on student visas and...

orized recruitment agencies by mandating that universities sign up to a stringent framework of agencies.

The announcement was met with relief by many higher education officials and international students, who were left uncertain over the future of the visa.

Speaking in an interview with The Pie News, Tim Bradshaw, CEO of the Russell Group, emphasized the value brought by international students to the UK.

“Stability is now needed in student migration policy to enable universities to plan for a long-term, sustainable future, and protect quality and choice for all students,” he said. 

The call for stability follows the controversial UK visa dependent ban, which was announced earlier this year, blocking international students from bringing their families with them while studying at UK universities. 

Similarly, last year, the government also announced plans to increase the salary threshold for the skilled worker visa, from £18,600 ($23k) to £29,000 ($36k).

According to data from Enroly, these policy changes have resulted in a 57% decrease in international student deposits for September 2024, as compared with the previous year.

“Recent migration changes have already delivered the intended result of reducing international student numbers, with 9 in 10 member universities responding to our May survey reporting a decline in international applications,” said Catriona McCarthy, chairwoman of the British Universities' International Liaison Association (BUILA).

“Any further restrictions would have had severe implications for the higher education sector and the economy,” she warned. 

According to a financial report from OfS, a significant reduction in international student numbers could leave 80% of institutions in deficit, further highlighting the financial necessity of maintaining the Graduate Route.  

However, with the UK General Elections currently in full swing, it remains to be seen whether abolition of the graduate visa will feature in the Conservative manifesto.