The UK implemented reforms to its visa policy for students as of April 2012. There are tougher prerequisites and changes to after-graduation work permits, but MBA applicants and students should not be discouraged and put off by those as experience shows that they still manage very well within the new requirements.
In March 2011 the British government announced some changes to its immigration policy that aimed to place more obstacles on the way of illegitimate students wanting to stay in the country. However, these changes should not affect the studies and work prospects of regular, high-quality MBA students who wish to work in the UK after completing their studies.
The reforms have no significant impact on MBA students’ aspirations to pursue their management degrees in the UK. The government does not want to stop legitimate students from going to study in Britain but it is working to fix some flaws in its immigration system.
The most important change and probably the one that really concerns non-EEA MBA students is the closing of the Post-Study Work (PSW) visa programme, which used to allow students two years to seek employment after graduation. Now, graduates are only allowed to stay if they are offered a skilled job from a sponsoring employer, and thus fall under the prerequisite of the Tier 2 General Visa. If they apply from inside the UK, however, employers do not need to pass the otherwise bothersome Labour Market Test and there will be no caps and limitations to their Certificate of Sponsorship, which is great news for many.
MBA graduates only have four months to find such an employer, but it is easy to argue that a British MBA degree opens many doors both in the UK and abroad. It is very possible, and even probable, that non-EEA students with British MBA degrees will manage to land a good job sooner than four months after graduation. More than a few are offered jobs even before graduation and 90% find a job within three months of completing their studies.
Students who were Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) students during their studies cannot extend their visas to look for work, but could set up their own businesses after graduation. In 2013 the UK allowed 1,000 places for this visa for ‘graduates identified by UKhigher education institutions as having developedworld class innovative ideas or entrepreneurialskills, to extend their stay in the UKafter graduation to establish one or more businessesin the UK’ (The UK Border Agency).
MBA students who set up their own businesses in the UK after completing their MBA studies are numerous, so the road is still very open to them and they are welcomed by the British government as wholeheartedly as ever. The UK offers significantly better and more promising opportunities than other EU countries like France, Spain or Italy, and even than the United States. Therefore, the policy does not place restrictions on international applicants. The British government and schools alike
are favourable towards foreign students and would be happy to welcome new talent and diverse contributions.
In January 2013 the UK Border Agency published figures released by the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) showing a 9.9% increase in number of students applying to UK universities from China and a 19.3% in those from India. The figures show that while reforms have been the source of concern for many interested candidates, they have not ultimately put students off going to study at UK universities.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: 'theincrease in non-EEA student applications isfurther proof that the UK remains open to thebrightest and the best and international students.In particular,numbers from India and Chinahave seen big increases. This shows thatdespite stories to thecontrary, students continueto want to come to the UK to study atour world class universities.
'We have tackled abuse of the student routehead on - without affecting genuine students.By protecting the reputation of the British educationsystem will we be able to compete ina global race.'
In addition, jobs in finance, marketing, management, etc. in the UK have almost returned to pre-crisis levels, so opportunities in the UK are excellent for holders of British MBA degrees. Polls at the end of 2012 showed that in 2013 business will be hiring more MBA holders, considering them a good investment in times of economic peril.
The UK is known for its moderate and liberal society, and throughout history it has proved to be successful in attracting immigrants from all over the world thus maintaining an exciting and ever changing environment. This will not change now, and diversity will always be highly welcomed in Britain. Besides, sporting a UK MBA diploma will open many doors anywhere in the world, so UK universities still remain a top choice regardless of the new immigration policy changes.