Scotland politics

Ministers to hold post-study visa talks

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Image caption The visas allowed graduates to stay in Scotland to work before they were withdrawn in 2012

Scotland's international development minister is to hold talks with the UK government after it rejected calls for the reintroduction of a work visa system for international students.

Alasdair Allan wants the government to approve a more flexible system for those looking for work north of the border after they qualify.

The UK-wide post-study visa scheme was scrapped in 2012.

Since then, the SNP has campaigned for its return.

An inquiry by the Scottish affairs committee earlier this year concluded that removing the visa had made Scotland a less attractive destination to study.

But the UK government rejected the call, saying other visa options were available for former students.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Home Office said the post-study work visa scheme had been open to "widespread abuse"

UK Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said on Friday that restoring the scheme in Scotland would complicate the immigration system.

However, he has now agreed to an "urgent" meeting with Mr Allan.

The post-work study visa allowed overseas graduates to work for two years in the UK after completing their studies.

It was abolished after the Home Office concluded that the system had been open to widespread abuse.

'Mystifying decision'

Dr Allan said Mr Goodwill needed to show that he was listening to Scotland to provide an immigration system that met the country's needs.

He added: "There is consensus in Scotland - amongst business, education and every political party in Holyrood - that we need a return of a post-study route to allow talented students to remain and contribute to the Scottish economy.

"We have pressed the UK government for a number of months to meet with us and discuss this issue further and I look forward to hearing what Mr Goodwill has to say to justify this extremely disappointing and mystifying decision."

A UK government spokeswoman said: "The UK continues to welcome genuine students coming to our world-class universities and we are determined to make sure that what we offer brings real benefits to this country.

"As the home secretary announced earlier this month, we will be consulting on what more we can do to strengthen the system to support the best universities - and those that stick to the rules - to attract the best talent.

"This is not about pulling up the drawbridge to reduce student numbers, but making sure that those students that come here, come to study."

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