EDINBURGH (SCOTLAND) (TIP): In a major announcement, Scotland has said that it will re-introduce post study work visa for Indian students if it gains independence from United Kingdom in the referendum scheduled for September. The referendum on September 18 will see Scotland vote on whether it should be an independent country.
In an exclusive interview with TOI, Scotland’s minister for external affairs and international development Humza Yousaf said Scotland will allow Indian students to work at least for two years after they finish their education degree in Scotland.
Yousaf told TOI that ever since UK changed its immigration policy and ended its post-study work route for international students, Scotland has seen a 51% dip in Indian students enrolling to Scottish universities. At present, over 2000 Indian students study across Scotland. By 2024, it is expected that there will be 3.85 million outbound mobile higher education students globally and India along with China will contribute 35% of global growth during this period.
Indian students will be the second highest chunk with 3.76 lakh of them travelling to enrol in foreign universities. Yousaf told TOI “India’s relationship with Scotland goes back to 1870s and it’s a friendship we greatly value. Infact if the referendum sees a majority voting for Scotland’s independence, Delhi will be one of the first places we will open our embassy.
We have named India as our strategic priority country. The embassy will work to strengthen India’s ties in promoting trade and culture”. He added “Education will be the key area of India and an independent Scotland’s relationship. We want an immigration policy which makes sense and hence will have a different system to UK. UK’s immigration laws have damaged its relationship with India. We will re-introduce post study work visa in Scotland for Indian students.
Earlier before UK laws changed, it was for two years. We are presently talking to universities in Scotland on whether we stick with that or increase it further”. “Scotland has seen a massive fall in Indian students coming here to study just because of the new UK regulations. What is the point of attracting the best and brightest students to Scotland to study and not reap its benefits by asking them to leave immediately? We will allow Indian students to stay and work after getting their degree,” Yousaf added. Director of Universities Scotland said earlier, “It is deeply worrying to see such steep declines in students from India.
These are important markets for Scottish higher education and countries with which we have long-standing academic relationships. It’s very important that the message gets out to these countries that international students are welcome in Scotland.
This is not the perception given out by hardline rhetoric from parts of the UK government.” While students from the EU are entitled to free tuition at Scottish universities, those coming from further afield typically pay fees of between £10,000 and £20,000 a year, depending on their course. Those studying for medical degrees can pay around £30,000 a year. A study by Strathclyde University published in 2009 estimated that international students contribute £188 million to universities in Scotland directly with a further £321m to the wider Scottish economy.