The Manifesto for the Mobility of Talent, published by the staff and students' unions of Scotland’s universities and its Principals, asks all parties to include a proposal for a Scottish post-study work visa in their plans for Government, allowing international students the opportunity to stay and work in Scotland for a few years after they graduate.
Scotland attracts 31,000 students from outside the European Union to study in its universities, generating significant economic and cultural benefits for Scotland. Yet current immigration policy makes it very difficult for international students to stay and work in Scotland, forcing a highly skilled and young demographic to return home meaning Scotland’s business sector and public services lose out on talent as a result.
There is cross-party support in Scotland for the return of a post-study work visa for international students. All five major Scottish political parties back a proposal for the reintroduction of such a visa.
Commenting on the launch of the Manifesto, Alastair Sim, Director of Universities Scotland, the representative body of Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions, said:
“The next UK Government is going to have to take a new approach to immigration as it moves on with Brexit. This election gives politicians in Scotland a chance to send a strong and united message to the next Government, backed by the electorate, that Scotland wants an immigration policy that works for us.
“We value living and working amongst people from across the world. We want that talent to come and we want to keep our highly-skilled international students for the benefit of our economy and society. Scotland has been able to set a different policy on immigration before. It is entirely possible for the next UK Government to make this happen for Scotland again.”
The joint Manifesto for the Mobility of Talent also calls on politicians to guarantee the rights of the 4,500 staff from the EU and EEA who already work in Scotland’s universities to continue to work and reside in the UK without limits on their ability to access public services. Universities want EU staff and students to maintain freedom of movement.
The Manifesto finally calls for support for opportunities for Scottish students to go abroad as part of their studies. The UK’s continued role in Erasmus+, a major European student exchange programme, is in doubt as a result of Brexit.