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PSW UK: What Is The UK Graduate Route?

If you’re an international student at a UK b-school, you don't need a graduate job to stay in the UK. Find out what the new UK post-study work visa route, the Graduate Route, means for you

Tue Jul 6 2021

When you’re just starting your business school application, graduation can feel a long way off. But if you’re an international student applying to business school in the UK, you’ve probably got one eye on staying to work after your degree.

Your ticket to staying to work as an international graduate after business school was traditionally a post study work visa (PSW Visa), which was dependent on you getting sponsored by your employer. However, in July 2021, the UK government launched the UK Graduate Route.

What is the UK Graduate Route?

The UK government has changed both its international student and graduate work visas in the light of the country leaving the European Union (EU). On paper, this creates a more level playing field for international talent competing for job opportunities in the UK. 

The UK Graduate Route gives you two years to stay in the UK and look for jobs after you graduate, without the need for a traditional post-study work visa which involved employer sponsorship. 

The Graduate Route is available from summer 2021 for international talent looking to stay to work after their degree. 

The new Graduate Route is not permission to stay and work indefinitely, and it cannot be renewed. After the two year period is up, if you wish to continue to stay and work in the UK, you'll need to change over to a relevant visa. The Skilled Worker visa, for example, which requires employer sponsorship and replaced the old Tier 2 work visa in the UK.  

Who can apply for the UK Graduate Route?

You can apply if you’ve completed an eligible course at a UK business school and have a track record of compliance with the government’s immigration requirements. Graduates on the route can work flexibly, switch jobs, and develop their career as required.

The Graduate Route is also available to international students who begin their degrees online or remotely because of COVID-19.

Graduate Route UK | Key Facts

- Available to all international grads from any eligible UK higher education provider

- Allows grads to stay in the country to work or look for work for up to two years after they graduate

- It's unsponsored, meaning applicants do not need a job offer to apply to the route 

- No minimum salary requirement

- No cap on the number of grads who can apply for the Graduate Route 

What is the deadline to apply for the UK Graduate Route?

To be eligible, students who began their studies in autumn 2020 or spring 2021 will need to be in the UK on a UK post study work visa by September 27th, 2021.

Students who are beginning their course in autumn 2021 or early 2022 will need to be in the UK on a UK study visa by April 6th, 2022, at the latest.

Kevin Foster, the UK’s minister for immigration, told delegates at the UK Council for International Student Affairs’ (CISA) annual conference that the April 6th date is a ‘deadline, not a target for arrival’. That’s as the country looks to welcome back international students in the safest way possible post-COVID-19.

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What job opportunities are there for MBA and master's grads in the UK?

As an international student looking towards the Graduate Route after your business master’s or MBA, a strong career path is the goal.

It’s a good time for post graduate jobs in the UK, and the UK’s post-pandemic economic recovery is set to be stronger than expected.

Although the pandemic hit the global economy hard, and job prospects wavered, MBA salaries and hiring are set to return to pre-pandemic levels. Companies are also planning a wave of MBA talent hiring over the next half a decade.

The Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) latest Corporate Recruiters Survey showed that 54% of recruiters in Europe think their demand for business school graduates in the next five years will increase. 86% of companies in Europe are also planning to hire MBA talent in 2021.

Things seem to be recovering in light of vaccination rollouts and the return of optimism around the economy and job prospects post-pandemic. 

And with the UK’s new Graduate Route offering international talent a way into the UK economy after business school, now is a good time to invest in your career and start your business school application.

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