BREAKING NEWS: Why Has UK Decided to Retain Its Two-Year International Graduate Student Visa?

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The UK Retains Its Two-Year Graduate Visa for International Students

Higher education authorities as well as international students are relieved that the government has declared its intention to keep the UK Graduate Route in place.

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Despite government concerns that the popular two-year graduate visa, the Graduate Route, would be eliminated, the UK Home Office declared on May 23rd that it will remain in place.

This follows the recent MAC survey, which, contrary to what the Home Office indicated in a previous letter, found no indication that the system was being misused by international students and recommended that the Graduate Route be maintained. 

Rather, by requiring colleges to affix their names to a strict network of agencies, the Home Office has unveiled fresh plans to take action against student visas and unapproved recruitment organizations.

Many authorities in higher education as well as overseas students who were worried about the status of their visas were relieved to hear the news.

Tim Bradshaw, CEO of the Russell Group, stressed the importance of foreign students to the UK in an interview with The Pie News.

“Stability is now needed in student migration policy to enable universities to plan for a long-term, sustainable future, and protect quality and choice for all students,” he said. 

The demand for stability comes in the wake of the contentious UK visa-dependent restriction that was unveiled earlier this year and prevents foreign students from attending UK universities with their families. 

The government also declared intentions to raise the wage requirement for the skilled worker visa from £18,600 ($23k) to £29,000 ($36k) last year.

Enrollment data indicates that, in comparison to the prior year, these regulatory changes have led to a 57% drop in deposits from overseas students for September 2024.

According to Catriona McCarthy, chairwoman of the British Universities’ International Liaison Association (BUILA), “recent migration changes have already delivered the intended result of reducing international student numbers, with 9 in 10 member universities responding to our May survey reporting a decline in international applications.”

“Any further restrictions would have had severe implications for the higher education sector and the economy,” she warned. 

A financial analysis from OfS indicates that 80% of institutions would experience a deficit if the number of overseas students was significantly reduced, underscoring the financial need for preserving the Graduate Route.  

It is unclear, though, if the Conservative manifesto will call for the elimination of the graduate visa given that the UK general elections are now underway.


  • Okechukwu Liberty is a graduate of Mass Communication and a content writer for AfterSchoolAfrica. He is dedicated to researching scholarship and empowerment opportunities to students looking to study abroad.

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