Study abroad in the UK more difficult for non-EU foreign students

In April 2012, the UK authorities stopped allowing foreign students from countries outside the EU from taking advantage of the post-study scheme which allowed them to work for two years in the UK following completion of their higher education course. The new plan means that foreign students need to leave the UK following the completion of their course. Many students who had planned to study in the UK are now selecting alternative higher education study abroad destinations.

The new proposed legislation is justified by the UK government on the basis that in the past visa rules were abused by many international students who stayed on in Britain illegally following completion of their course at university.

UK Student Visa to UK Work Visa

At the moment, non-EU international students may remain in the UK after completing their course for a maximum of four months, if they obtain graduate employment, and then obtain the relevant work visa. Students require a UK university degree, a graduate job with a £20,000 minimum salary with a Tier 2 sponsor company licensed by the UK Border Agency.

With the new proposed regulations, non-EU foreign students will need to return home to their own country at the end of their student visa and then apply for a UK work visa if they obtain graduate employment.

Alternative Study Abroad Destinations

If the proposed new legislation eventually comes into force, many students will consider alternative study abroad destinations such as Continental Europe, the USA, Canada and Singapore, rather than studying in the UK. In recent years, in fact, interest in Continental Europe and Singapore has grown due to the number of high-quality educational institutions available to foreign students.

However, not all foreign students will be affected by the proposed new legislation. Many students are mainly interested in studying in the UK for the academic and international experience, but have no plans to work or settle in the UK, being quite happy to return home following completion of their university studies. Those non-EU foreign students wishing to obtain employment in the UK after finishing university will, however, certainly face new challenges.

Although the UK has traditionally been a top study abroad destination for both undergraduate and post-graduate students, particularly in the MBA sector, the impact on employment options as a result of the new legislation will increase the financial costs for non-EU foreign students due to the lack of immediate employment opportunities following the completion of their course.