Pete Wishart MP chairs the Scottish Affairs Committee. Photo: DC Thomson.

Scottish Affairs Committee calls for Post-Study Work visas revision

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Pete Wishart MP chairs the Scottish Affairs Committee. Photo: DC Thomson.

MSPs from all parties in Holyrood are united behind calls by a House of Commons committee for a lengthening of Post-Study Work visas for non-EU students in Scotland.

Brig Newspaper reported in the January edition the Scottish Affairs Committee (SAC) met in Aberdeen to discuss the issue after the UK Government scrapped the Post-Work visa scheme in 2012.

The calls came from the House of Commons Committee, and are supported by the likes of Edinburgh University, who warned of a “brain drain” on Scotland’s university talent as graduates take their skills abroad.

The current legislation means students with Tier 4 work visas are allowed just four months to leave the country following graduation. The new proposals would see it increased to two years.

Twenty-three percent of the University of Stirling’s 12,300 students are from overseas  with over 100 nationalities are represented at the university.

There is concern in Scotland over a skills shortage in the country, which differs to that of the rest of the UK.

Scotland’s lower birth rate, and skills gaps looming in the areas of health, energy and finance.

Committee chair Pete Wishart MP 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.

“We raise unnecessary barriers preventing these talented individuals from staying and contributing to our economy.”

The Committee cited a report showing an 80% drop in non-EU students remaining in the UK after graduation.

Heather Atcheson, a study abroad student from Canada, said the proposals were good news for international students: “Post-work visas provide international students with the opportunity to give back to the country insofar as it allows them to gain real work experience on Scottish soil.

“Here, they can share their acquired knowledge and skills sets to boost the economy. Furthermore, post-work visas are beneficial in that they play a role in the continued diversification of the Scottish workforce and general population.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the door has not closed on a possible reinstating of the Post-Study work visas for graduates: “We will look at any reasonable suggestion to improve the current arrangements.

“If the report shows that there are measures we can take to improve the situation in Scotland then of course we will take that forward.”

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