By Peter Makossah
The British Home Secretary is mulling over to cut the post-study student visa stay in the UK for foreign students.
The New Graduate Visa route, which allows foreign graduates – including African overseas students – the chance to stay on to job-hunt and gain work-experience for up to two years without the requirement of a specific job offer, is expected to be cut under the new proposed review.
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman is said to be on a collision course with the country’s education department over plans to cut the period of stay allowed for overseas students under a post-study visa route, according to UK media reports.
According to ‘The Times’, the UK home secretary, who is of African heritage, has drawn up a plan to “reform” the Graduate Visa route requiring students to obtain a work visa by getting a skilled job or leave the UK after six months.
The newspaper refers to leaked advice to say that the UK Department for Education (DfE) is attempting to block the changes as they fear it would harm the UK’s attractiveness to international students.
A government source who backs Braverman’s plan said the Graduate Visa was being increasingly used by students on short courses at “less respectable universities”.
“It’s being used as a backdoor immigration route,” the source was quoted as saying.
The DfE, however, argues that the two-year Graduate Visa, often referred to as the UK’s post-study offer, was aligned with most of Britain’s main competitors, with only the US offering a one-year visa.
According to latest statistics by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), Indians overtook Chinese as the largest cohort of foreign students last year and the new Graduate Visa route, introduced in July 2021, was dominated by Indians – accounting for 41 per cent of the visas granted.
The number of African students coming to the UK to study remain minimal.
Adeola Adenuga, 24, a post-graduate biochemical engineering student, a Nigerian from Lagos but currently a learner at the University of Nottingham said:
“This is harsh. We spent a lot of money paying for our education and to send us back without allowing us look for a job is unfair.
Braverman’s proposal is reportedly among several drawn up after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak asked the Home Office and the DfE to submit proposals for reducing the number of foreign students coming to the UK.”
Figures published shows there were a total of 680,000 foreign students in the UK.
The government’s 2019 Higher Education Strategy included a target of 600,000 students by 2030, which was met last year itself.
Another proposal being considered would reportedly allow foreign students to bring dependent family members with them only if they were on postgraduate research-based courses such as a PhD, or postgraduate courses that were at least two years’ long.
The UK Home Office refused to comment on the leak, but a government spokesperson said:
“Our points-based system is designed to be flexible according to the UK’s needs, including attracting top-class talent from across the world to contribute to the UK’s excellent academic reputation and to help keep our universities competitive on the world stage.
“We keep all our immigration policies under constant review to ensure they best serve the country and reflect the public’s priorities.”
Braverman was born in London to migrant parents who were from Kenya and Mauritius with the roots in Goa and in the South India.
Braverman whose maiden name is Suella Fernandes studied law at the Queen’s College in the University of Cambridge and has completed a Master’s in law from the University of Paris.
Suella Braverman is the first female Attorney General who to be appointed by a government of Conservative Party.
The secretary of state for the Home Department is a secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with responsibility for the home office.
As a Great Office of State , the home secretary is one of the most senior and influential ministers in the government. The incumbent is a statutory member of the British Cabinet and National Security Council.
The position, which may be known as interior minister in other nations, was created in 1782, though its responsibilities have changed many times.
Past office holders have included the prime ministers Lord North, Robert Peel, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Palmerston, Winston Churchill, James Callaghan and Theresa May.
In 2007, Jacqui Smith, a labour MP and former broadcaster became the first female home secretary.
Sue-Ellen Cassiana “Suella” Braverman KC is a British barrister and politician who has served as Home Secretary since 25 October 2022.
She previously held the position from 6 September to 19 October 2022 under former Prime Minister, Liz Truss.