Home » UK PM Rishi Sunak Abandons Plan To Restrict Graduate Visas After Backlash

UK PM Rishi Sunak Abandons Plan To Restrict Graduate Visas After Backlash

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New Delhi:

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is no longer planning to limit graduate visas that allow international students to work in Britain for up to two years after graduation, The Guardian reported. His change in plan came after strong opposition from key cabinet members. 

Rishi Sunak was considering restrictions to the UK’s post-study visa which allows graduates to stay on and work for up to two years after their degree course. But now, it seems like he will go for smaller changes to make the rules tighter and stop the immigration system from being misused.

One of the proposed ideas is to put tougher rules on agents advertising UK degree courses abroad. These agents may face penalties if they fail to deliver the quality of students they promise. Students from other countries who want to stay in the UK with a graduate visa might have to take English tests. And if universities or colleges have too many students dropping out, they could lose their permission to recruit students from other countries.

An official announcement about these proposed changes is expected to come out at the same time as the Office for National Statistics releases its quarterly net migration figures on Thursday, as per the Guardian. It’s predicted that these figures will still show high levels of migration.

Every year, India sends a large number of students to study in the UK, more than almost any other country. They make up over 40% of all graduate visas.

Indian students and alumni in the UK have been asking Mr Sunak to keep the graduate visa programme. The National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) stressed that this visa route is crucial for keeping the UK attractive to international students. They disagreed with the idea that these visas only lead to low-paying gig economy jobs, saying they offer important chances for skilled jobs and career growth.

Sanam Arora, the chairperson of NISAU, told The Guardian that the best students would go to “where the best offer is, and any worsening of the graduate route will make the UK’s offer significantly worse.” 

He stated that international students are typically hard-working people who put a lot of money into their education in the UK, alongside their hopes and dreams for a better future. “Some find merit in reducing the hard work of young people to ‘Deliveroo visas’,” Mr Arora added. 

Many of these students take out costly educational loans to finance their studies. It’s only fair that they expect some return on this substantial investment. What they seek is a straightforward opportunity to gain valuable work experience for a limited time, he said. 

Mr Sunak’s decision to step back about the more extreme plans comes after senior cabinet members like Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Foreign Secretary David Cameron, Home Secretary James Cleverly and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan opposed the idea. They said that strict limits on graduate visas would hurt both UK universities and the economy as a whole.