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Uni Leaders Seek Changes in UK Visa System

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Universities UK said overseas students are now opt for countries such as the US, Canada and Australia. Research has shown Australia is already overtaking the UK as the second biggest destination for overseas students

Prime Minister Theresa May’s tough immigration control stance under attack as several  university leaders calling for changes to the UK visa system to allow international students, especially from India, to stay and work for two years after they graduate.

Prof Sir Steve Smith, of Universities UK, said the UK was “missing out” on the global growth in overseas students, BBC reported.

The UK removed the right to work after claims that overseas students were over-staying and using student visas as a back-door route for migration. But Sir Steve said such claims had proved to be “factually incorrect” and the latest data showed that 98% of overseas students complied with their visa requirements.

Universities UK said overseas students are now opt for countries such as the US, Canada and Australia. Research has shown Australia is already overtaking the UK as the second biggest destination for overseas students.

The government has said there is no cap on legitimate overseas student numbers. The Migration Advisory Committee will submit this month its report on the impact of international students – currently counted as those from outside the UK and the European Union.

The government has previously rejected calls to take international students out of migration targets.

After Brexit, Sir Steve said there would be even greater demand for skilled workers and the UK needed to show it was “open for business”. Overall international student numbers to the UK have increased by only 3% in the past decade – while the US has increased by 40%, Australia by 45% and Canada 57%.

Students participating in fashion show during the Global Open Festival 

A study from University College London in July showed that the UK’s longstanding position as the second biggest recruiter, behind the US, was being lost to Australia. China is the biggest source of international students for the UK, with about 95,000 students. There are about 17,000 students from India – but Universities UK says this number has halved over the past five years.