‘Maintain the UK Graduate Route’ petition launched

Published 09/02/2024

The PIE News is launching a campaign urging the UK government to commit to maintaining the right for international graduates to stay in the country for two years after completing their courses to gain work experience.

It comes after the UK Home Secretary, James Cleverly, revealed that the Migration Advisory Committee had been instructed to launch a review into the Graduate Visa.

The review is part of a package of measures – including banning dependants of postgraduate-taught students coming to the UK, increasing the immigration health surcharge and skilled worker salary thresholds – that government says is “robust action” needed to reduce “opportunities for abuse”.

The PIE acknowledges that government should ensure that the Graduate Route is working well in the interest of international students. But the publication believes that Westminster must reassure international students, as well as prospective students, that the visa will not be withdrawn.

British citizens or UK residents can sign the petition here.

Following the announced from Cleverly, UUK chief executive Vivienne Stern stated that, “No one wants abuse of the system… However, it is important that we now put to bed the suggestion that this visa will be scrapped, which will go a long way to reassuring prospective international students that the UK remains an attractive destination.”

In 2019 when the Graduate Route was announced, the sector emphatically welcomed the visa with stakeholders saying it would make the “UK a more attractive place to study”.

“At last. Godot has finally arrived,” HEPI director Nick Hillman said at the time.

Stakeholders suggest that removing the route could give an advantage to the UK’s competitor markets.

The graduate route’s benefits for individual students are difficult to measure, but listen to what they say.

“The graduate route allowed me to apply and be accepted for a dream opportunity,” one graduate of Royal Holloway currently on the route, Jayden Bookout, wrote in The PIE this week.

“In my role, I provide invaluable support to those sleeping rough and help coordinate accommodation; this is only possible due to the post-study visa.”

The PIE has in the past reported on recommendations the sectors feels will improve the opportunity. Some 24% of students have said they did not think their expectations of the route were being met, while a mere 3% of UK employers were using the route in late 2022.

None of the recommendations The PIE has reported on mention the removal or the curtailing the length of the Graduate Route.

The petition is available to sign for British citizens or UK residents here.

We urge the Migration Advisory Committee, as well as the wider sector, to thoroughly read the APPG for International Students’ report – one of which is that government “must publicly commit to maintaining the Graduate visa into the next Parliament”.

“We want the government to confirm that it is committed to the Graduate Visa”

The new petition states, “We want the government to confirm that it is committed to the Graduate Visa and that there is no risk it will be cut back.

“The route offers international students – who pay a premium at UK universities – work experience, connections in the UK workplace & a chance to mitigate study costs.

“It helps to keep UK higher education competitive in a global market. Without it, we believe that many universities – which rely on international fees would risk going into the red.”

For employers, the route offers access to talented graduates. Overall, international students add some £41.9 billion to the UK economy annually.

The petition is available to sign for British citizens or UK residents here.

As an independent news provider that tries to publish as balanced and nuanced articles as possible, this is the first time The PIE News has launched a campaign of its own. We have done so now as we consider this, not only to be of interest to the sector, but most importantly to international students themselves.

Read more: UK sector gears up to protect post-study work Graduate visa

Could the UK Grad Route be axed?

UK international educator sector reacts to review announcement of the Graduate visa

“The graduate route’s impact cannot be understood simply by tracking income”

To support the campaign further, why not write for us (reach us via [email protected])? Please also consider sharing the petition on social media.

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