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Why international finance graduates are leaving the UK

Leaving on a jetplane. Source: Shutterstock

There are many ways that the UK’s “hostile” immigration policies are impacting international students. From lecturers reporting on students at risk of radicalisation to the inclusion foreign students in the government’s target to reduce net migration, it has made studying in the UK an uncomfortable prospect for non-native students.

Now, the latest report reveals another facet of this unfriendly policy: Masters in Finance (MiF) students are leaving the country as soon as they graduate, despite the likelihood of receiving better pay in the UK compared to their home country.

According to the Financial Times, data from the 2018 FT rankings of pre-experience and post-experience programmes shows that since 2012, the number of MiF students from non-European Economic Areas working in the UK three years after graduating has more than halved.

A similar downward trend is seen among MiF students from the EEA. Over the past two years, their numbers dropped from 42 to 37 percent.

While many international students return to their home country upon graduation, the situation with MiF students is a little different, with salary prospects remaining considerably more impressive in the UK than back home. The average salaries for non-EEA students in the UK is around US$66,000 compared to US$53,000 in their home countries.

One graduate from Warwick Business School said that finding a job in the UK was “near impossible because of the visa sponsorship requirement.”

“There is no way an international student can both study well and search for a job,” they said, adding that “everyone had to make their choice”.

These tough policies were introduced under the former Conservative government headed by David Cameron in 2010. Previously, international students were allowed to stay and work legally in the UK after graduation. This meant graduates could gain work experience abroad before returning home country, among many other perks.

In line with these changes, graduating students no longer had the right to gain vital work experience in the UK, and those who wish to remain must now apply for the Tier 2 visa. The requirements are tougher under this programme – the graduate must be sponsored by a British company and show that he or she is filling a vacant position that can’t already be filled by a British citizen.

The situation in the UK is a stark contrast to the case across the pond. The number of international graduates staying on in the US has grown from 48 percent to 64 during the same period.

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