What does the UK post-study working visa update mean for international students looking to study in England this year?

Global education network QS have revealed that ”just 6% of prospective international students considering studying in the UK are aware that they can stay in the country and work for two years after graduating.” This means that the current post-study work conditions will be extended from four months to two years with the introduction of the new two-year post-study work route. While this has been a positive shift, this information has not reached all international students who could use this information to make an informed decision about their educational choices. So, we’re going to take a look at what the latest announcements are and what this means for future study in the UK.

What does this mean for international students?

The move to introduce the post-study work visas was hailed as long overdue. The Guardian explained that “the decision reverses one of the most contentious policies from Theresa May’s time in charge of immigration policy, which shrank the time available for overseas students to stay and work after graduating from two years to as little as four months in most cases”. This change has given prospective students a realistic time frame in which to find a job in the UK post-study. It’s important to note that these changes are due to come into effect for students beginning their degrees in the 2020/21 intake or graduating in summer 2021 and the government has made it clear that this is still their intention for the coming academic year. If you are a prospective student, you are likely to be conscious of what your degree experience will look like in a post-corona setting, and while none of us can see into the future, what we can do is look at what UK universities are doing to support learning going forward.

What does this mean for future UK study?

The minister state for UK universities has released a statement to highlight the contributions of international students to the UK and confirm his support of their global talent. He explains that international students bring “greater diversity to university and college campuses, as well as fresh ideas and new perspectives. This cultural exchange helps build life-long friendships, as well as laying the foundations for future networks, and important business, political and diplomatic bridges.” He continues that “We want you to enjoy your time in the UK and to get the most out of studying at our world-class universities. To mitigate the worst effects of the virus on your student experience, we are working closely with universities and I am pleased to see that the sector is making every effort to enable you to continue your studies – including moving learning online either in the UK or in your home country – so that your teaching and assessment can proceed.” The priorities for all universities are education, and the health and safety of its students. So, with that in mind, September starters will become part of a learning community that is adapting to the “new normal” while working towards a prestigious degree certificate. What is encouraging is that students will still be able to start a UK university degree without needing a visa for the start of a course. As the year progresses and restrictions ease, we may also see more global movement which would allow universities to respond to the government rules.

UK universities are currently closed for face-to-face lectures but behind the scenes, each department is providing vital support to learners. UWE Bristol have created an emergency fund to support current international students in the UK. Their Pre-Sessional English team have adapted their course to provide an online Pre-sessional course for international students who have an offer conditional on English language. Students who successfully complete the course can progress to their UWE degree programme without the need for a further English test. Their Visa team have also created extensive webinar provisions to respond to the needs of prospective, current and graduating students who are looking for advice. If you’re due to start a course in 20/21 get in touch with your institution to see what support is in place for international students as this will help you feel confident that while contact may have changed for a while, the educational content and support is still very much present for students.

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By Jen Garmston Published: May 18,2020