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UK launches new pilot visa scheme for overseas students

Under the pilot visa scheme, those applying for a Masters degree course in select high-profile universities would be allowed to stay in the country for up to six months after completing their course.

By: PTI | London |
July 29, 2016 7:20:06 pm

The UK has launched a pilot visa scheme for international students, including students from India, applying for a Masters degree course in select high-profile universities, that would allow them to stay in the country for six months after completing their course.

The Tier 4 Visa Pilot Scheme, launched by the UK Home Office this week, is open to students from around the world who win a place at one-year Masters courses at Imperial College London, Oxford, Cambridge or Bath universities.

It gives them access to a streamlined visa application, managed by their respective university and the opportunity to stay in the UK for six months after their studies to work, explore further study, try a start-up or travel.

“This pilot scheme is an encouraging step forward. The ability to stay on for six months will bring benefits to the students and to the country as our talented graduates will be able to pursue their entrepreneurial ideas, further study or add to the UK’s talent pool,” said Professor Alice Gast, Imperial College London’s president.

The scheme will cover visa applications decided on or after July 25 this year and is open to students commencing their studies in 2016-17 or 2017-18.

Only students applying for a visa for Masters courses of 13 months or less are eligible for this scheme.

Undergraduate and PhD students, as well as students in Masters courses longer than 13 months, will continue to be required to submit all necessary supporting documents with their visa application.

The pilot scheme is expected to run for two years, when it would either be made permanent or modified based on its success.

“Participating in the pilot allows you to stay longer after the end of the course — the total length of stay you are allowed is the full length of the course plus six months after the end of the course; submit fewer evidential documents with your application,” a UK Home Office guidance said.

The number of Indian students heading to the UK fell from 18,535 in 2010-11 to 10,235 in 2012-13, according to a report by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Removal of the post-study work visa route in 2012 has been widely recognised as one of the major off-putting factors, resulting in Indian students getting attracted to other destinations like the US and Australia.

This new pilot scheme may prove attractive to some Indian students exploring a short Masters degree course.

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