UK Graduate Visa: Indian students aspiring to study abroad have a reason to cheer. Know what the latest rules are

The graduate route visa offered to international students will continue in its current form, the UK's Migration Advisory Committee noted in its review report on Tuesday. The visa was introduced in July 2021, following which the number of international students going to the UK grew significantly.

MintGenie Team
First Published14 May 2024
Indian students comprise around 40 per cent of the total number of graduate route visa holders, the report stated.
Indian students comprise around 40 per cent of the total number of graduate route visa holders, the report stated.

In a relief to thousands of students from India who are planning to go to the United Kingdom this year, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended the continuation of the graduate route work visa, also known as PSW or post-study work visa, in its current form.  

This visa enables international students to work for two years in the UK after graduating from a British university such as a Russell Group university (top institutions) like Oxford, Cambridge or LSE, or a non-Russell Group one such as Sussex, SOAS and University of West London. 

For the unversed, the committee was entrusted with the task by Home Secretary James Cleverly to review the graduate route visa and submit the report on May 14. 

Key findings of the report:

Will the graduate rote visa be axed, as was anticipated by some sections of students and agents?

No, the visa category will continue in its current form, the MAC report has noted.

During the review, did they find that the objectives of introducing this category were met?

It is mentioned in the report that there was a target of six lakh international students in the UK which was meant to be achieved by 2030. However, this target has been met way before the deadline. While it is difficult to assess the contribution of the graduate route towards meeting of this target, the review shows it has played a major role.

“Based on our analysis, the graduate route is broadly achieving its objectives and supporting the International Education Strategy. We recommend retaining the graduate route in its current form,” the report reads.

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Is there any abuse of the graduate route?

The committee categorically mentioned that there was no evidence of widespread abuse of this visa category i.e., graduate route. The risks of abuse are low on account of the limited number of conditions the route imposes. However, the report mentions that the exploitation may be happening because of poor practices by agents who may be mis-selling UK higher education. 

How many Indians make use of the visa?

It was highlighted that a total of 1.14 lakh graduate route visas were issued in 2023, and another 30,000 were given to dependants. The report highlighted that the use of the graduate route was highest among four countries which are  India, China, Pakistan and Nigeria – thus comprising 70 per cent of all graduate visas, out of which India alone accounted for 40 per cent, i.e. a total of 45,600. 

The majority of those (91 per cent) on the graduate route finished their Taught Master’s degree. Interestingly, most of the growth is from postgraduate courses of non-premier universities’ (known as non-Russell Group), accounting for 66 per cent of all graduate visas.

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Is the graduate visa undermining the quality of the UK university system?

The report concluded that the PSW (post study work) route is not undermining the quality of the UK university system. Under the current models, this route is enabling universities to expand the range of courses they offer while compensating for financial losses they incur on domestic students and research.

This visa has also contributed to diversifying the range of universities which benefit from the financial contribution made by global student body.

What work do graduate visa holders do during and after their time on the route and are they contributing to the economy?

It was highlighted that the graduate visa holders generally find lower-paid work (such as in health and care occupations), but this does not remain forever. Their outcomes happen to improve gradually, over a period of time. 

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After one year, it was observed, their earnings do not deviate too much from those of locals, eespecially 15 months after their studies complete. 

Among the first group of graduate visa holders, nearly 50 per cent ended up securing Skilled Worker visas, which means into skilled work. It is also worth noting that the graduate visa holders who move into the Skilled Worker route get earnings and work in occupations that are comparable to local graduates.

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