Sheffield University and city MP back Government U-turn on visas for foreign students

The Government’s announcement of a new two-year post-study work visa for international students has been welcomed by Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield and a city university leader.

Thursday, 12th September 2019, 3:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th September 2019, 5:32 pm
Sheffield MP and Shadow Brexit Minister Paul Blomfield. Picture: Tony Johnson.

The new proposals reverse a decision made in 2012 by the then home secretary Theresa May, which meant international students were forced to leave the UK four months after finishing their degree.

Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, shadow Brexit minister and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Students, has been campaigning to reverse the measures since they were introduced seven years ago.

In 2018, Mr Blomfield co-chaired a cross-party inquiry and set out eight recommendations for policy changes by the government regarding the future for international students in the UK.

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Koen Lamberts, vice-chancellor of Sheffield University. Picture: Scott Merrylees

He said: “In March the Government adopted our first recommendation of establishing an ambitious target to increase international student recruitment.

“I am delighted that they have acted on our second recommendation by finally reversing the damaging decision to scrap the post-study work visa.”

However, Mr Blomfield said more could be done.

“The next step would be to remove barriers in visa application processes and in particular to review the credibility interviews which allow Home Office staff to block applications on the basis of questions which no UK student could be expected to answer.

“A further step to secure the talents of international graduates, not covered by our report, would be to reduce the Tier 2 salary threshold of £30,000 which is a barrier to recruitment in certain sectors and regions of the UK.”

Professor Koen Lamberts, president and vice-chancellor of Sheffield University, said the move confirmed ‘what many of us have known all along’.

“International students are an invaluable asset to this country,” he said.

Prof Lamberts, who was born in Belgium, added that the reversal represented a success for the university’s #WeAreInternational campaign.

“For a long time, we and supporters of our #WeAreInternational campaign have been urging the government to recognise the incredible talents, impact and soft power offered by our international students and alumni.

“We are delighted they have done so through the reintroduction of a two-year post-study work visa.

“At Sheffield, it’s a real source of pride that we have over 140 nationalities represented on our campus and that students from across the world choose to make our city their home.”