First published in The Warwick Boar (online), 22 September 2015 in response to Editor request. Edited article

International applicants for UK universities are rejecting the UK as a place of study due to poor post-study work opportunities, according to a recent survey carried out by Hobsons EMEA. (http://www.hobsonssolutions.com/EMEA/Our-Insight)

The survey of international students revealed that 32% of students who applied to UK universities chose to study elsewhere, with over a third of these citing ‘post-study work options’ as the main reason.

A further 31% stated ‘job prospects in the destination country’, closely followed by 29% stating ‘ability to gain residency in the destination country’.

Of those who chose to study elsewhere, 4 out of 10 accepted offers to study in the United States or Canada.

Nottingham Trent PhD student, Ayane Fujiwara, explained that restrictions on non-EU students gaining employment post-graduation have tightened significantly since she first moved the UK at the age of 15 in 2002, with Post Study Visas being scrapped. Ayane said in a written interview “To be honest, I didn’t take the full benefit of the Post Study Visa which was available in 2009 (which now has been scrapped), I regret that massively.”

In a written statement, The Minister of State for Immigration, James Brokenshire, explained the UK government’s reason for this, “The Government is reforming the student visa system to reduce net migration and tackle abuse. These changes will help achieve this, whilst ensuring the UK maintains a highly competitive offer and continues to attract the brightest and best international students.” (http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-vote-office/July%202015/13%20July/5-Home-Immigration.pdf)

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) advise that international students are only able to work in the UK after their studies if they gain sponsorship from a “UK recognised body” or “higher education institution (HEI)”. (http://www.ukcisa.org.uk/International-Students/The-next-stage/Working-after-your-studies/#)

Ayane explains that, as most applications for jobs are now online, it is often not possible to proceed past the declaration of eligibility to work in the UK on the first page.

Talking to The Boar, Irina Jrbashyan, a Warwick MA Creative and Media Enterprises student, offers advice to international students considering studying in the UK, based on her experiences: “Frankly, do not hope to stay here after you have studied.

“Because of the complications with the visa process, the employers often don’t even bother to look at your CV or cover letter, if they find out you need a working permit.”

Ayane recommended gaining work experience or undertaking an industrial placement to build a relationship with potential future employees, commenting: “It’s a massive strength, as they will know you before they turn you down at the first page of the online application.”

The August 2015 report carries a warning that “failure to improve post-study work opportunities will see revenue generation from international students rapidly decline” and goes on to state that this could threaten the future of some UK academic institutions.

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