Heriot-Watt University has backed calls to ease Visa restrictions placed on students from outside the EU, allowing them to work in the country after graduation.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard A. Williams, has expressed his strong support for a proposed extension to the existing visa arrangements that would allow international students to work for up to two years in the UK after gaining their qualification.
The proposal has gained the widespread backing of many higher education institutions since it was announced by Universities UK this week.
Professor Richard A Williams, Principal and Vice Chancellor at Heriot-Watt University and Convener of Universities Scotland’s International Committee, said: “Scotland is a sought after study destination and the country benefits educationally, socially, culturally and economically from talented international students.
"We could all benefit more if students from overseas were allowed to stay in the UK after they graduate As a welcoming and inclusive nation, Scotland has much to gain from international students with high-level skills. We know there is support for this amongst employers as well as the public.”
Around one third of Heriot-Watt’s on-campus students currently studying in Scotland are from outside the UK, making the University one of the most internationally diverse in the UK and helping earn it the accolade as the Times and Sunday Times “International University of the Year”.
This global outlook has been further bolstered by the University’s overseas campuses in Dubai and Malaysia that promote Scotland’s excellence in education around the world.
Professor Williams added: “With the UK’s exit from the EU, the UK Government is right to consider Britain’s place in the world and its relationship to it. The time is right to take a fresh look at immigration policy across the UK and make sure it works for our economic and social needs.
"Universities Scotland and Universities UK have advised on a policy proposal for international graduates offers the UK a mutually beneficial outcome; for students, for employers, and economic growth. We look forward to constructive engagement with the UK Government.”
Universities UK, the body representing UK universities including 19 in Scotland, has led calls for new policy proposal to relax post-study work visas for international students.
At present, there are strict eligibility rules for post-study work in the UK, involving high costs for both students and employers and various time restrictions.
Universities UK say the new scheme would allow more employers in Scotland to access talented graduates from around the world, addressing workforce shortages and skills gaps in many sectors and industries.
It would also make Scotland a more attractive destination for international students and graduates and allow it to compete with countries who have more attractive post-study work policies, such as the USA and Australia.