Response to UK Government announcement of new immigration route for international students

Minister for Further and Higher Education Richard Lochhead said:

“The Scottish Government has been consistent in arguing for the reintroduction of a post-study work visa following the decision by the UK Government to end the previous route in 2012. This is a welcome step forward but only one of many measures required.

“It should not have taken seven years for the UK Government to accept the arguments from partners across Scotland and reverse their decision.

“It is clearer by the day that Scotland urgently needs a migration policy tailored to our distinct needs and for the devolution of powers to develop, deliver and maintain policies that meet the needs of Scotland’s universities, communities, public services and economy.”


The previous Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition government in Scotland, working with the then UK Government, introduced Fresh Talent in 2005, a scheme administered by the Home Office that allowed international graduates of Scottish universities to remain in the country after the end of their course of study to live and work for up to two years.

Post Study Work Visa was abolished by the UK Government in 2012.

The report of the Smith Commission recommended that the Scottish and UK Governments work together to explore the possibility of reintroducing a post-study work route. “The parties have agreed that the Scottish and UK Governments should work together to explore the possibility of introducing formal schemes to allow international higher education students graduating from Scottish further and higher education institutions to remain in Scotland and contribute to economic activity for a defined period of time.”

Following the publication of the Smith Report in December 2015, the Scottish Government has repeatedly sought to work with the UK Government to explore the possibility of reintroducing a post study work scheme. Scottish Ministers established a Working Group and Steering Group, with representation from all Scottish political parties, that put proposals and recommendations to the UK Government on how post-study work in Scotland could proceed. However, the UK Government was reluctant to constructively discuss the reintroduction of such a route and ruled out any movement without consultation or engagement with Scottish Ministers or stakeholders in Scotland.  


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