UKCISA welcomes MAC recommendation to retain Graduate route

14 May 2024


We welcome the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) findings that the Graduate route be retained in its current form. After a rapid review of evidence, the committee has found no widespread abuse of the route and recommended that no changes be made.  

We also welcome the Committee’s acknowledgement of the disproportionate effect that the change in dependant policy has had on some groups of international students and welcome its recommendation that the impact of this change is fully assessed.  

The Committee has also made important recommendations about data collection and evaluation of immigration routes. This aligns with our recent policy position paper, which calls on policymakers to implement central data collection mechanisms to build a comprehensive evidence base of migration data for international students and their dependants. 

Post-study work is an essential part of the UK’s offer to international students. It helps to ensure that international students continue to choose a UK education and support a diverse intercultural learning environment for all students. It is one of the primary factors in their selection of a study destination. The Graduate route provides a flexible pathway for international graduates to gain work experience and complement the skills developed during their degree for up to two years (three as a PhD graduate).   

Following the recent increase to the Skilled Worker visa salary threshold, this unsponsored route is particularly valuable for employers in UK regions and sectors with lower starting salaries who are looking for innovative and talented graduates, and we welcome the Committee’s acknowledgement of its role in levelling up.  Research shows that international students are not just contributing to the internationalisation of our curricula and our higher-level skills development. They contributed £41.9b to the economy in 2021/22. Additionally, the net benefit to the UK Exchequer was estimated to be £70 million in the Graduate route’s first year. 

To attract and benefit from international students, the Graduate route must be retained in its current form to provide a stable offer to international students and enable policymakers to properly evaluate its impact on graduates, student sponsors and employers. 

The removal of - or restrictions to - the Graduate route would have a significant negative impact on the attractiveness of the UK as a study destination and therefore the financial stability of the sector and wider UK economy. 

UKCISA will continue to work with our members, international students and our colleagues across the sector to demonstrate the importance of the Graduate route for the international student experience.  

The full MAC report Rapid Review of the Graduate Route was released on 14th May 2024 and is available on their website here