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UK should guarantee work visas for foreign engineering students, says British inventor

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British inventor and founder of tech company Dyson has urged the UK government to allow international students studying engineering and science to remain in the country to work after completing their studies.

James Dyson told the Financial Times: “I would like them to feel they would be guaranteed a visa at the end of their training. I think we can do some very simple things to considerably increase the number of British engineers and keep that talent in Britain.”

According to the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), over 33 percent of international students studying in the country in 2014/15 were pursuing engineering and technology degrees.

However, due to the governmentís current visa policies, the majority of them have returned to their home countries, which Dyson finds “unfortunate”.

“It seems unfortunate to train up those people, do that research here in Britain then for us not to allow them to stay or not make them feel welcome so they go back and compete against us,” he said.

Based on data by Engineering UK, the country is facing a shortage of around 69,000 advanced technicians and engineers a year.

In a bid to address the UK’s skills shortage, Dyson has announced that he is setting up an educational institute aimed at training a new generation of engineers.

The Dyson Institute of Technology, located at Dyson’s Wiltshire headquarters, will welcome its first cohort, consisting of 25 students, in September next year.

Over the next five years, Dyson has pledged to invest £15 million into the institute to help double the companyís engineering workforce by 2020 – its staff currently stands at 3,000 employees drawn from 34 countries around the world.

The four-year degree programme will mainly involve hands-on practical work, as students will spend one day a week in the classroom and four days on projects at the Dyson facility.

Students will not be charged any tuition fees, and will instead be paid a salary and get the opportunity to work alongside Dyson engineers and research staff on a mentor-mentee basis.

“The new degree course offers academic theory, a real-world job and salary, and access to experts in their field,” said Dyson, adding that students will get the benefit of seeing the projects they worked on “being put into production and going into the shops”.

Teaching and the awarding of degrees will initially be conducted in collaboration with the University of Warwick, but Dyson envisions the institute becoming a full-fledged university in the near future.

According to Dyson, he decided to open his own university after spending years complaining to the government about the lack of engineers, after which he was told to “take matters into his own hands”.

At the moment, Asian countries are producing far more skilled engineers compared to the UK, he added, saying that the private sector should do something to help bridge the nation’s engineering skills gap.

“We are competing globally with Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore. Itís all the major technology nations and we have got to be better than them,” said Dyson, as quoted by the Guardian.

Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya, Warwick Manufacturing Group chairman, said: “It is vital that in order for UK companies to be competitive they must have the right people with the right skills. I am delighted we are working with the Dyson Institute on this degree.”

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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