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

Published 08/02/2024

When I first came to the UK, I only intended to stay for my studies and planned to return home following graduation. I was relatively naive with regard to visas, particularly post-study options, and only began seriously considering routes to remain in the UK in 2021.

My name is Jayden Bookout, I graduated from Royal Holloway in 2023 with a BSc Criminology and Psychology and am currently on the Graduate Route. Originally from the United States, I moved to the UK over four years ago looking for a unique university experience.

Thanks to the work of UKCISA, I became aware of the graduate route and felt it could be suitable for my needs and interests.

The graduate route was not necessarily a factor that pulled me to the UK.

When I first applied to university in 2018, it certainly made me eager to stay and pursue job opportunities in this country. I have always wanted to work in the community and while studying, I found a listing for the perfect job in Newcastle.

Unfortunately, this company does not have a license to sponsor an employee. Thus, the graduate route allowed me to apply and be accepted for a dream opportunity.

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. This has not only been beneficial for my career prospects but the graduate route allows me to save for a masters course.

I’ve remained in the UK, making it much more feasible to continue my education here and I look forward to returning to my studies after my time on the graduate route is up.

Had this visa not been available, I would have not been able to support the local community in my work and would have been more inclined to search for postgraduate courses back in the US.

I firmly believe that a post-study visa is beneficial not only for students but for the wider country.

International students enrich the culture of the UK and contribute time and effort through work and volunteering. Allowing these students to remain following their studies only extends the positive effects.

“My own salary is relatively low but that does not mean the work is any less impactful”

There are concerns throughout the government that those on the graduate route do not tend to gain high-paying employment. However, this is not necessarily surprising given that individuals in jobs with higher wages may be more likely to fall under the Skilled Worker visa.

My own salary is relatively low but that does not mean the work is any less impactful.

I urge the government to consider more than just the economic effects of the employment options those on the graduate route seek.

I may not earn as much as the government would like an immigrant to, however, I plan to reinvest some of these earnings back into British higher education in the coming years. The impact of international students and the graduate route cannot be understood simply by tracking income.

Instead, the graduate route allows former students to showcase their hard-earned UK education in employment, in volunteer work and through their presence in the community. The graduate route has been a priceless opportunity that I am extremely grateful for and I sincerely hope it remains an option for international students to come.

About the author: Jayden Bookout is an international graduate of Royal Holloway, University of London and currently on the Graduate Route in the UK.

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