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Rishi Sunak backtracks plan to restrict graduate visas after cabinet opposition

Rishi Sunak backtracks plan to restrict graduate visas after cabinet opposition

Rishi Sunak backtracks plan to restrict graduate visas after cabinet opposition
May 21, 2024 1 min, 13 secs

Rishi Sunak had been considering restricting and even scrapping the graduate visa route as a way of reducing migration figures, but he is now expected to opt for more modest reforms to close loopholes and “prevent abuse” of the immigration system.

Among the measures under consideration is a clampdown on recruitment agents that market British degree courses overseas, with penalties for those who fail to supply the type of students they promise, according to the Financial Times.

Foreign students who use the graduate visa route to stay in the UK at the end of their studies could face mandatory English tests, according to the Sun, which also reports that universities and colleges with high dropout rates could lose their licence to recruit overseas.

“In actual fact international students and graduates are by and large extremely hard-working young people who have typically invested tens of thousands of pounds into their UK education, alongside their dreams and aspirations for a better future.”

A letter signed by vice-chancellors at more than 20 universities across the north – many of them non-Russell Group – urged Sunak to accept the findings of the Migration Advisory Committee, which last week recommended the graduate visa arrangement should be retained in its entirety after a review found no evidence of widespread abuse.

“Universities from Sunderland to Sheffield, Leeds to Lancaster, Liverpool to Teesside, Bradford to Huddersfield, and York to Newcastle will all be harmed by the removal or reduction of the graduate route visa,” the letter states.

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