International students were in the spotlight recently with the final publication of a report on how changes to the government policy on post – study work have had a significant impact on students, UK higher education and businesses, with implications for the economy as a whole.
The report by the All – Party Parliamentary Group on Migration looks at the impact of the closure of Tier 1 (Post Study Work) route in 2012, with a review of the system since then.
There have been several findings, the 2 most significant being:
- Drop in international students coming to study in the UK since the changes, with notable declines from India, Pakistan and Nigeria. Evidence suggests that the UK is losing out to other competitor countries who offer better PSW opportunities and so this has major implications for the UK’s global appeal as a choice for international study. More than £10 billion a year is pumped into our economy as a result of international student migration. But it’s not just about the finances; it has been rightly acknowledged that there are enormous social and cultural benefits for our education institutes, businesses and the community.
- Decline in numbers of skilled international graduates able to remain in the UK, there has been an 88% drop, significantly higher than what the government expected. Furthermore, the report highlights restrictions employers face, consequences for regional economies outside of London and South – East, as well as important sectors such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and Creative Arts who are facing difficulties to attract talent from a wider pool of graduates.
It will be interesting to see future developments, but in these challenging times, what can international students do to maximise their chances of working in the UK?
Career planning from the first year is critical, and students must seek relevant careers advice and information as early on as possible. Being proactive but also flexible remains key. Due consideration needs to be given to time scales especially surrounding visas.
There are 5 key questions students should ask themselves if they are keen to get ahead in the UK job market:
- Do I have a strong understanding of how the UK job market works and opportunities that exist?
- Do I have the skills and competencies UK employers are looking for?
- Do I know what my USP is as an international graduate?
- Do I know how to effectively market myself in CVs, applications and interviews?
- Do I have relevant information on the post study work routes?
Particular resources and organisations that are worth checking out are the TARGETjobs Careers Advice for International Students website and also UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) where there are some links and information on post study work routes (I should add that students should refer to immigration experts and specialist organisations for visa advice).
I’ll be posting some more articles on the international theme, including some tips and advice for UK students looking to launch a global career so watch this space!