Joint call for new work visa for international students

The University, Metro Mayor and businesses in the Liverpool City Region are backing calls for a new visa to allow qualified international students to work in skilled jobs for a period after graduation.

The visa would allow a wider range of employers to benefit from access to skilled graduates from around the world, making Liverpool a more attractive destination for international students, while supporting the local economy and businesses.

According to Universities UK, the move would allow the UK to compete with other popular destinations such as Australia and Canada who have more welcoming student visa policies.

Significant contribution

Recent studies have shown the significant contribution international students make to towns and cities across Britain, including Liverpool, with an annual contribution to the UK economy of more than £20bn, an estimated £1.9bn of which is contributed to the North West economy.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Janet Beer, said: “There are currently over 7,000 international students at the University of Liverpool and they are a vital part of the University’s community, contributing academically, culturally and socially not only to our classrooms, but to the City Region as a whole.

“We strongly support this proposal which we believe is an essential step to make Liverpool, and the whole of the UK, more attractive to the international students, who also make such a vital contribution to our economy.

“In an increasingly globalised world, we know also that these students and graduates bring not only investment, but skills and perspectives which are valued by UK students and local employers. Sending out a strong message that Liverpool is a welcoming city, which is open to global talent, makes sense for everyone.”

Under the new visa proposal, universities would be able to sponsor graduates to search for and gain work experience in the UK for up to two years. This would be on a more flexible basis than currently permitted, without restrictions on job level or salary, and without an employer sponsorship requirement. This would encourage international graduates to live and work in cities where average wages are lower than London, but where their skills and continued contribution to the local economy makes a real difference.

A win-win approach

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “Our higher education institutions and their graduates make a huge contribution to our city region’s economy and we need to do all we can to ensure we continue to attract the best talent from around the world.

“Making the UK and the Liverpool City Region more attractive to these talented young people is a win-win approach which will ensure that international students can continue to contribute to the future prosperity of our city region.”

The proposal has also been supported by civic and business leaders in Liverpool. Asif Hamid MBE, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Liverpool City Region attracts a large number of international students to its universities and we have always stressed the important contribution that overseas students make to our local economy. Therefore, it is essential to our future prosperity that the City Region has a compelling and attractive offer for these young people to come and study here which will ultimately help secure vital inward investment for local industry and people.

“Going forward, we have identified the need to attract more international students as a key priority for the City Region through a business led Internationalisation Strategy. This strategy identifies how the City Region can capture international growth opportunities not only in oversees students but also in trade, R&D and International Visitors.”

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