I welcome today’s government announcement to allow international students to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK for two years post-study. The UK is one of the most popular destinations to study in the world and it is vital we do what we can to attract even more of the brightest and best to study here, and then allow them a chance to remain in the UK and put their skills to use, boosting our economy and cementing the UK’s world-leading reputation as a place which nurtures talent and allows it to thrive. Those who come here and return home are often ambassadors for the UK for the rest of their lives
Back in 2014 I launched the Conservatives for Managed Migration in a bid to spark calm and rational debate about migration both within and beyond the Conservative Party. I have long drawn the Home Office’s attention to the concerns of the leading universities and businesses based in my constituency, who have on numerous occasions have told me of the barriers they face in securing entry to Britain those we should be welcoming. The removal of these barriers as far as is practicable should be something the government seeks to address and I am very much supportive of moves, such as this announcement, in that direction.
From my own international experience as Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and prior to that as Vice-Chairman (International) of the Conservative Party I know just how positively this announcement will have gone down in Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, not to mention China and India, where the UK’s higher education is so highly sought after.
This policy shift shows in a most positive light the constructive way the UK, regardless of our withdrawal from the EU, will continue to reach out into the world and seek to engage with those ambitious and hardworking students ready to come here to study, or even to make a life for themselves. Indeed, our very best universities already reach out to all corners of the world. I certainly hope that today’s announcement signals the direction of travel on the government’s immigration policy more broadly.