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HomeUK NewsMigrant graduates to UK will have to face annual English tests

Migrant graduates to UK will have to face annual English tests

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Migrant graduates in the UK could soon be required to pass annual English tests under a new government proposal. This change, pending Cabinet approval, aims to strengthen the criteria of the Graduate Route visa, which currently allows international students to work in the UK for two years after graduation.

The Home Office also plans to address the issue of recruitment agents placing foreign students in low-paying jobs below the minimum wage, as reported by the Daily Mail. A government source told The Sun that the revised scheme seeks to attract only the “best and brightest” to the UK.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is considering banning British universities from enrolling foreign students in “low-quality” postgraduate courses. This move is part of a broader effort to control immigration, amid concerns that such courses serve as a backdoor entry into the UK. Despite a decline in net immigration from its peak, the numbers remain significantly higher than those at the 2019 election, where the Conservatives pledged to reduce them.

Sunak’s concern is underscored by HM Revenue and Customs data showing that 41 per cent of visa-using graduates earn less than £15,000. Potential rule changes could face opposition from senior Cabinet ministers and universities, which rely heavily on the higher fees paid by international students.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt noted that current changes to immigration rules are already reducing immigration, suggesting that further restrictions on student numbers may be unnecessary. Education Secretary Gillian Keegan opposes banning foreign students from lower-quality postgraduate courses, asserting, “This can’t all be about PPEs from Oxford.”

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The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended continuing the Graduate Route visa scheme, finding no abuse of the post-study work offer. Indians, who accounted for 42 per cent of visas from 2021 to 2023, would be most affected by any restrictions.

Universities and Indian student groups have urged Sunak to maintain the post-study visa offer. Nearly 30 university vice-chancellors and the National Indian Students and Alumni Association (NISAU) UK highlighted the economic benefits and the role of international students in enhancing the UK’s global educational competitiveness. “The modelling by consultancy London Economics shows that a single cohort has a net economic benefit of GBP 37 billion to the UK economy,” read the NISAU UK letter to Sunak.

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