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UK’s Graduate Visa Programs May Stay, But Sunak Plans Crackdown on Foreign Education Agents

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UK’s Graduate Visa Programs May Stay, But Sunak Plans Crackdown on Foreign Education Agents

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to announce a crackdown on agents marketing graduate visa schemes overseas, aiming to project a tough stance on migration before this year’s general elections. This comes after UK’s university regulator warned of severe financial strains on institutions due to a decline in According to a Financial Times report, the new measures, anticipated to be revealed next week, will coincide with the release of quarterly migration data from the Home Office and the Office for National Statistics. The crackdown could involve mandatory registration for agents and fines for malpractice.

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Sunak is also considering stricter criteria for the graduate visa scheme, potentially limiting visas to the “best and the brightest.” However, this approach has not yet been formally discussed with ministers. This proposal faces resistance from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, who worry about the financial impact on universities if international student numbers drop further.

The decision on whether to limit the scheme to top-tier students is expected to depend on upcoming net migration figures. Keegan supports measures to prevent system abuses by agents but opposes limiting access based on student quality or degree type. “This can’t all be about PPEs from Oxford,” she said.

The UK government’s independent migration adviser recently recommended maintaining the current visa scheme, which allows international students to stay for two years post-graduation. Despite this, Sunak plans to introduce measures targeting international agents amid pressure from his party to reduce legal migration ahead of the general elections. The Migration Advisory Committee’s report highlighted issues with some recruitment agents and suggested tighter regulation, including mandatory registr ..

Businesses warn against crackdown
However, universities and businesses caution against overly restrictive measures, arguing that the focus on elite students is misguided. Multinational companies investing in the UK have raised concerns that the government’s migration policy could weaken cutting-edge research and innovation, as well as the talent pool they depend on for recruitment. In an open letter, these firms expressed alarm over reports of increasing research and teaching .

“We are deeply concerned by reports of growing research and teaching funding gaps, as well as sharp declines in international student applications as a result of government policy,” the letter stated. “This not only risks undermining the positive impact that international students have on our skills base, future workforce, and international influence, but also reduces the funding that universities have available for their wider activities, including research and collaboration with industry.”

The letter further warned that financial pressures over time could erode one of the UK’s greatest strategic strengths, with broad implications for businesses, the economy, and society. Signatories included senior executives from German industrial giant Siemens, French defence company Thales, mining companies Anglo American and Rio Tinto, utility Severn Trent, and energy companies EDF and Neptune.

economictimes.indiatimes.com

#Siemens#EDF#Anglo#American#RioTinto#utilitySevernTrent#modernbusinessnetwork #modernusinessindia#modernbusinessamerica #modernbusinesseurope#modernbusinessasia#modernbusinessgulf  #modernbusinessgermany#modernbusinessworld

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