The Migration Advisory Committee has proposed changing visa processes to make it easier to hire international students. The proposal was one of several recommendations included in a 117-page report issued this week.

Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd commissioned the MAC in 2017 to assess the impact of international students in the U.K. The commission subsequently issued a call for evidence and based its recommendations in part on the responses stakeholders provided. The MAC recommended that the government:

  1. Retain its policy of not placing a cap on the number of international students in the U.K.
  2. Work with the education sector to increase the number of international students.
  3. Continue to include international students in the net migration target.
  4. Retain its current policies on family dependent rights and student work rights.
  5. Widen the window for applying to switch from Tier 4 to Tier 2 visa, making it possible to apply for a Tier 2 visa as soon as a job offer is made.
  6. Increase the post-study leave period to six months for all master’s students, provided that this change is deemed appropriate after continued study.
  7. Incorporate the 12 months leave to remain for students who have completed their Ph.D. into their original visa duration.
  8. Grant Tier 4 students who meet at least Level 6 qualification a two-year period after the completion of their coursework, during which they may submit an out-of-country Tier 2 visa application under the current rules for switches from Tier 4 to Tier 2.

The MAC declined to endorse the idea of introducing a separate post-study visa program, saying it would drive up demand for short degrees in order to retain temporary working rights—a point that the committee’s chair, Professor Alan Manning, acknowledged would be disappointing to the education sector.

Analysis & Comments: While the MAC introduced changes that would ease the processes for obtaining a Tier 2 visa upon completing coursework, it stopped short of proposing a separate post-study visa program. It also recommended that international students continue to be counted in the government’s net migration statistics, a disappointment to the education sector at a time when officials are under pressure to reduce overall net migration. The government will review the MAC’s recommendations and will set out its position in response to the inquiry’s findings.

Source: Deloitte LLP. Deloitte LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC303675 and its registered office at 1 New Street Square, London EC4A 3HQ, United Kingdom.