Published on May 15, 2014 | by Karina Starobina


Numbers of international students dip as post grad visas become like gold-dust

Living in London is a dream for many people. You know that cheesy quote that’s plastered on almost every bit of tacky souvenir: “If you are tired of London, you are tired of life”. Well, London can in fact be really tiring for international students.

International students have only four months to find a job after they finish their studies [Flickr]

Four years of study, and then maybe a Masters…what comes next? Getting a job in the UK is becoming harder and harder every year. Meanwhile, international students are quickly becoming the main source of income for UK universities. What’s the point of paying the sky-high fees and going back home without any chance of staying to work in London?

In April 2012 Tier 1(or the Post-Study work visa) was closed to all new applicants. Before that international students had 3 years to find a job – now this time is cut to 4 months which makes it almost impossible. Even a qualified UK citizen spends more than that amount of time searching to get a decent position.

Many people with degrees are forced to take jobs for which they are overqualified to make ends meet. Matheo, a 23 year old EU student, said:

“I got my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration last August and have been searching for a job ever since. I have to pay for my accommodation and you know I have to eat something so I had to take up a job in catering. It’s not so bad. I usually go to job interviews in the daytime and do my shifts in the evening. No luck in getting a job so far… I want to work in events management.”

So imagine how hard it is for non-EU students who are asking their employers for a work visa.

Elena, 27, is an LSE graduate. She had to leave London this April after she quit her job at Bloomberg and tried to find a new one:

“Four months of exhausting job interviews are just enough for me. At some point I realized I broke down in tears on may way to an interview in a cab because I was running late. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I am going back to Moscow to have some rest and start looking for a job there. I am sorry that me and London didn’t work out, so I’m going to have an amazing going away party and say goodbye to this city”.

Sophie, 24 years old, studying Post Graduate Diploma in Photography at the London College of Communication, came here in 2007:

“Even though I got the post-study visa it was still pretty tough, because most companies wouldn’t be able to sponsor your visa after this one expires and they won’t hire you. So if you are not in investment banking or consulting you’re in trouble.

I think it definitely discourages international students because before they would know that there was a chance to get this two year post-study visa and they would think that would help them to get a job whereas nowadays they know that after graduation they have like a month not even four like before – just one month to leave the country.”

Despite this, there are still some success stories. Sean Stillmaker, 26, is studying MA Print/Online Journalism at LCC. He’s not searching for work, instead he’s creating a job of his own. He and his wife Kelly started their own magazine, majestic disorder.

“For me personally, I love the competitive atmosphere in the city, but even more so, I love the access to resources.

There is so many creatively fascinating people who…are open to collaboration. In the US, this was very hard to come by.”

The number of international students enrolling in UK’s universities decreased for the first time in 29 years.

There was a 50% drop in the number of postgraduate students coming from India and Pakistan and an approximately 25% drop in the number of EU students compared with last year.

International students help sustain the UK’s research base expecially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics: they account for over 40% of UK postgraduate students, 50% of those doing full-time research degrees.

As a result of the emerging visa crisis, the number of international students enrolling in UK universities has decreased for the first time in 29. If they’re the main source of income for universities, shouldn’t higher education be helping provide international graduates with visas that will allow them to stay in the UK? Or are they just being robbed of tens of thousands of pounds, and then being shipped back to the countries they left to get a better education. What would UK higher education even look like without them?



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