The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published its report: "International students in the UK". The report contains a number of policy recommendations to the Home Office which follow a detailed analysis of the policy and law relating to international students in the UK (before, during and post study). In addition it provides a useful comparison with the relevant policies of other countries which recruit international students. A summary of the recommendations can be found on pages 111 - 112 of the report. These recommendations include:
- not removing students from the net migration statistics, but raises several questions around the target, including whether having any sort of net migration target is appropriate
- not having a post-study work scheme, but:
- extending the leave granted to Master's students to six months after the end of their course (in line with the Tier 4 pilot, subject to analysis of the pilot)
- replacing DES leave with 12 months of leave automatically and additionally granted to leave for a PhD (subject to progress requirements and course completion)
- extending the benefits associated with an in-country switch from Tier 4 to Tier 2 to entry clearance applicants (ie the RLMT, exemption from the cap and from the Immigration Skills Charge), allowing such applicants a two-year period from completion of their qualification to make this application.
- widening the window within which an applicant can make an in-country application to 'switch' from Tier 4 to Tier 2, to allow students who have a job offer to make the application even where a job does not commence until a few months later.
The report also recommends retaining the work rights of students and their dependants and states:
“we do not recommend any toughening of visa requirements so a clear statement on this would also reassure. It would be better to loosen visa requirements and regulations as much as possible.”