Scotland politics

MPs join calls for return of post-study visas in Scotland

Image caption The visas allowed graduates to stay in Scotland to work before they were withdrawn in 2012

A Westminster committee has added its voice to calls to bring back post-study visas in Scotland.

Holyrood's devolution committee has already backed bringing back the visas, which allowed students to remain in Scotland to work after graduation but were withdrawn in 2012.

The Scottish Affairs Committee said returning the visas could help fill skills gaps in key professions.

The UK government said it would study the evidence put forward.

All of Holyrood's political parties want to see the visas brought back, alongside universities colleges and businesses.

Edinburgh University has warned of a "brain drain of global talent" caused by top talent moving away from Scotland after graduation.

MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee said taking away the visa had made Scotland less attractive to international students, citing a drop of 80% in non-EU students remaining in the country after graduation.

Image copyright PA
Image caption MSPs have hit out at UK immigration policy on a number of fronts

Current visa arrangements mean international students struggle to find a job after graduating within the four month time-scale and minimum-salary thresholds "are not reflective of graduate salaries in Scotland", the committee found.

It heard businesses had also been put off sponsoring students as current arrangements were "bureaucratic, costly and time-consuming".

Committee chairman and SNP MP Pete Wishart said: "We currently have a situation where people come to Scotland from around the world to spend three or four years here being educated and becoming settled in our society.

"Then we raise unnecessary barriers preventing these talented individuals from staying and contributing to our economy.

"There has been an almost universal call for change and the UK government must give assurances that it will take heed and give proper consideration to reforms."

Growing pressure

Scottish European and International Development Minister Humza Yousaf said the report proved pressure was growing on the UK government, calling on Immigration Minister James Brokenshire to reconsider his position.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell has previously said he would listen to concerns.

A spokesman for the UK government said: "We have been clear that we will examine any evidence which the committee, or other interested parties, might produce about the effectiveness of post-study work schemes and any suggestions they have for further improvements.

"The UK has excellent post-study work opportunities for students who wish to stay and work after graduating. Graduates can stay if they get a graduate-level job, get an internship or become a graduate entrepreneur."

Holyrood MSPs and SNP MPs have also hit out at the UK government's immigration bill, which among other measures proposes a new offence of illegal working.

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