MSP wants change of plan

Dornan urges Commons rethink on student visas

james-dornanNationalist MSP James Dornan has demanded the UK Government responds to growing calls for Scottish universities to be included in a new visa scheme for students.

Westminster is piloting the scheme, allowing overseas students to remain in Britain for two years after graduating, though it applies to only four English universities.

It has been set up after Westminster abolished the post-study work visa in 2012.

University of Glasgow principal Anton Muscatelli echoed calls from the principals of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon universities for the scheme to apply north of the border.

Former First Minister Lord McConnell last week described the scheme as “a slap in the face for Scottish higher education”.

A report by the IPPR think tank said restrictions on international student numbers are harming the education sector and forcing well-integrated and highly-skilled migrants to leave the UK after their studies.

SNP member Mr Dornan said: “The growing calls from across the education sector cannot be ignored – the UK Government need to rethink their decision to exclude Scotland from this pilot scheme.

“With long-standing calls from Scottish universities for the reintroduction of a post-study work visa, and a cross-party consensus in favour, refusing to include a single Scottish university in this pilot is simply not acceptable.

“We know that Tory restrictions on international students have been harming the education sector – and with Theresa May’s complete lack of clarity on how Brexit will impact on EU students and staff, our universities deserve better than to be put to the back of the queue.”

Letter from James Dornan to Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State for Immigration:

Dear Robert,

You will be aware of concerns raised by Scottish universities over their exclusion from the pilot of a new post-study work visa, which has been restricted to a small number of universities in the south of England.

The decision by your government to scrap the post-study work visa in 2012 was a mistake which has harmed our university sector, as confirmed by a report this week by the IPPR.

The prospect of Scotland leaving the EU, without any assurances over how this will affect freedom of movement or our membership of the single market, is similarly likely to harm the education sector. 

I am glad that your government is now reconsidering the issue of the post-study work visa and is piloting a new scheme.

I do not, however, believe that it is acceptable that the benefits of this scheme will not extend to Scotland – particularly considering the cross-party consensus for the reintroduction of a post-study work visa in Scotland.

I trust that you will carefully consider the calls by the university sector for the extension of this pilot to Scotland and reflect on how to support the aspirations of Scottish education.


James Dornan

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