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Graduate Route Visa: UK Panel 'Finds No Widespread Abuse', Recommends Continuation

Study In UK: The MAC has also suggested a "mandatory registration system" for international recruitment agents and subagents, known in India as overseas education consultants.

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Graduate Route Visa: UK Panel 'Finds No Widespread Abuse', Recommends Continuation
Study In UK: The MAC submitted its report on May 14.

The United Kingdom's Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended keeping the "graduate route" visa policy, noting there is no evidence of "abuse" of the policy. This route allows international students to remain and work in the UK after finishing their studies. In 2023, it provided over 50,000 Indian students with post-study work opportunities, accounting for 44% of all student visa extensions and the highest number among all nationalities.

In March, Home Secretary James Cleverly requested a swift review of the graduate route visa policy. The MAC submitted its report on May 14. 

Brian Bell, MAC chair, stated, "We have not found evidence of widespread abuse on the Graduate route, where we define abuse as deliberate non-compliance with immigration rules, and we conclude that the route is not undermining the integrity and quality of the UK higher education system." 

Mr Bell noted that the impact of Graduate visa holders on public finances is expected to be small but positive, as most are employed, young, and do not rely on public funds.

Mr Bell also highlighted that some agents might be "mis-selling UK higher education and exploiting students in the process."

The MAC has recommended keeping the graduate route unchanged, noting that recent visa regulation changes, which prevent dependents of international students from entering the UK, are already reducing international student numbers significantly. 

It suggests waiting to evaluate these changes' full impact before making additional adjustments. 

"Implementing additional restrictions or closing the route now could risk overcorrection," Mr Bell stated. He also emphasized the reliance of UK universities on income from international students, warning against significant changes to the route until structural funding issues in higher education are resolved.

The MAC has also suggested a "mandatory registration system" for international recruitment agents and subagents, known in India as overseas education consultants. 

They recommend universities publish annual data on their spending on recruitment agents and the number of international students recruited through these means to improve transparency. While most agents support promoting the UK and assisting international students, there were instances of bad practices among some agents. This recommendation aims to maintain the standards of UK higher education.

Additionally, the MAC has advised the UK government to require universities to confirm the course outcome, such as the degree classification, alongside the existing requirement to confirm course completion. 

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