The United Kingdom Migration Advisory Committee has said foreign students on two-year graduate visas who fail to achieve high grades may be barred from staying in the UK.
According to The Telegraph, the UK Home Secretary, James Cleverly, was asked to review the graduate visa as part of a five-point plan to reduce net migration by 300,000 from its record-high levels.
It reported that more than 98,000 students were granted two-year visas to remain in the UK after their graduation in June 2023, an increase of 42,000 or 74 per cent in just a year.
“There are fears that it is being used as a backdoor route to work in the UK, often in low-skilled jobs, or simply to stay for two years as there is no requirement to take up employment,” it said.
The Chairman, MAC, Prof. Brian Bell, said, “There’s no requirement to get particular grades in your university course or anything like that.
“That’s the question we want to review in the graduate route to think about whether that’s sensible or whether you should have a rule that says you have to achieve a certain grade or a certain kind of achievement in your course.”
Bell said his committee would also investigate whether there should be further restrictions that would only allow foreign students to stay in the UK if they went to certain universities or completed specified courses. It could also be limited to certain types of jobs or activities.
“At the moment, there’s no restriction on what you can do. You can, if you’ve got the money, just sit around and do nothing in the UK for two years. You can also take a minimum wage job or you can take a very highly paid job.”
Also, the former Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, and the former immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, pushed to scrap or overhaul the graduate visa amid concerns it was fuelling immigration and was open to abuse.
In an article last week for The Telegraph, Jenrick said, “The graduate route is ripe for comprehensive reform. Too many universities have fallen into the migration, rather than education business, and are marketing low grade, short courses as a backdoor to life in the UK.”