Scottish Government
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Call for post-study work visa

UK immigration policies cut entrants from India and Pakistan.

External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf today said plans to introduce a post-study work visa in an independent Scotland would protect universities and opportunities for international students.

Mr Yousaf highlighted how the numbers of entrants to Scottish universities from India and Pakistan have almost halved in the last two years. The reduced figures follow the UK Government’s removal of the post-study work visa which allowed non-EU students to remain in Scotland and contribute further to the sector and the wider economy on completion of their studies.

Scotland welcomes over 45,000 students from overseas each year including 28,300 international students from outside the EU. In 2012/13, Scottish institutions received an income of £374 million from non-EU course fees alone, with these students also contributing to Scotland’s economy and society.

Mr Yousaf said:

“There is no doubt that the UK Government’s immigration policies are damaging our university sector, Scotland and our international reputation. Scotland benefits immeasurably from the social, cultural and intellectual impact of international students in our 19 higher education institutions.

“In 2012/13 there were 28,305 international students at all levels in our universities from over 180 countries. Beneath these figures the negative impact of the UK Government’s immigration policies is being seen and felt. There has been a worrying drop in new entrants from countries like Pakistan and India – two countries which traditionally send high numbers of students to Scotland.

“Although a majority would either be unaffected or would be more likely to come in the event of independence, the survey ­highlights crucial issues about the marketing of Scottish higher education in future.

In March 2011 the UK Government announced the post-study work visa route would close in April 2012 and since then, the number of new entrants to Scottish universities from India decreased by 58 per cent, from Pakistan by 38 per cent and from Nigeria by 22 per cent.

“It is clear that we must do everything within our power to protect the valuable contribution made by international students to higher education in Scotland and protect our universities. Clearly, Scotland must have the powers of an independent nation to develop an immigration system that works for Scotland and ensures that we fully protect the international reputation and success of our universities.

“That is why, in Scotland’s Future, we set out a positive vision for an independent Scotland, promising to introduce a controlled immigration system that meets our social, economic and cultural needs.

“Our immigration needs are different to those of the whole of the UK. In particular, our population growth has been slower, historically. Latest population figures suggest that Scotland’s workforce will not grow as rapidly as the rest of the UK.

“There is a clear indication that Scotland’s working age population will fall in future. This gives us a clear economic rationale for stimulating an increase in our population as set out in our economic strategy – including through immigration.

“Of course, there are skilled and well educated Scots looking for work in Scotland. We are making the strongest efforts to create more jobs and develop the skills of our workforce. However, we must also be able to attract and retain world-class talent to fill vacancies which cannot be filled by resident workers.

“We would ensure that the immigration policies we introduce, including the post-study work visa, allow Scotland to attract and retain world-class talent, contributing to our education system and the Scottish economy.”

Notes To Editors

Scotland’s Future: Higher Education Research in and Independent Scotland can be found at:

Channel website:

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