International students will not have to return home straight after graduating

The UK government has rejected a proposal by the home secretary, Theresa May, to remove foreign students from the country immediately following their graduation from university. Currently, students may stay in the UK for up to four months after they complete their degree to find a graduate-level job with a salary of at least £24,000.

May’s plan had been roundly criticised by the scientific community since its announcement last month. Under the now-rejected proposal, students would have been required to return to their country of origin and apply for a UK work visa. Sarah Main, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, said in a statement in December: ‘Forcing students to apply for a work visa [after being expelled] would … risk turning the best and brightest away from the UK.’

The quashing of the proposal by the Conservative party leadership has been seen as a response to these warnings and mounting pressure from business leaders. Main now welcomes the government’s position on the issue. ‘I am delighted by this news,’ she said. ‘These international students are the cream of the crop and, having trained them, the UK would do well to fight hard to keep them.’