The UK government on Wednesday announced a new two-year post-study work visa route for all international students, a move that will prove extremely attractive for Bangladeshi students who plan to study at universities in Britain.
The new “Graduate” route, to be in place by next year, will be open to all overseas nationals who have valid UK immigration status as a student and have successfully completed a course of study in any subject at undergraduate level or above at a government-approved UK higher education institution.
The visa will allow eligible students to work, or even look for work, in any career or position of their choice, for two years after completing their studies.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has effectively reinstated a policy ended by his predecessor, Theresa May, around nine years ago, said the change would see students “unlock their potential” to begin careers in the UK.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The new Graduate Route will mean talented international students, whether in science and maths or technology and engineering, can study in the UK and then gain valuable work experience as they go on to build successful careers.
“It demonstrates our global outlook and will ensure that we continue to attract the best and brightest.”
The UK ended its two-year post-study work visa offer during Theresa May’s term as UK home secretary in 2012, widely seen as responsible for a major drop in student numbers from South Asian countries like Bangladesh.
The number of students from Bangladesh applying to UK universities for higher education has only recently started showing an upward trend after a dip in previous years.
The latest 2019 figures from Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the UK’s centralized university application system, revealed that 310 students from Bangladesh had applied to take up courses at British universities by this year’s deadline of June 30.
This marks a 14 percent hike over the previous year of 2018, when 270 applications were recorded, but still far from a high of 340 applications in 2015.
The removal of the post-study visa offer was among the factors behind the fall in numbers and therefore the UK government’s latest announcement was widely welcomed by university chiefs and representatives.
“Evidence shows that international students bring significant positive social outcomes to the UK as well as £26 billion in economic contributions, but for too long the lack of post-study work opportunities in the UK has put us at a competitive disadvantage in attracting those students,” said Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK.
The new Graduate route will launch for the 2020-21 intake of students to UK universities. After the two years, they will be able to switch onto the skilled work visa if they find a job which meets the skill requirement of the route.
The new visa, more details of which will be unveiled in the coming months, will offer opportunities to work or look for work after graduating.
However, unlike the route which closed in 2012, the UK government stressed that the new route will also include safeguards to ensure only “genuine, credible students” are eligible.