“Brexit will have little impact on Indian students”

Prof. Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor, Middlesex University, speaks on visa, networking, and job prospects for foreign students

Published - February 12, 2018 05:00 pm IST

For students studying abroad, the university is the point from where learning, career, and friendships take root. While learning happens organically within campus, during the years of study, career requires more effort from the student and a conducive climate outside the campus — job availability, recruitment rates, political policies, immigration regulations, and much more.

In this context, Prof. Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor, Middlesex University, gives us an understanding of what the options are for an international student, especially in the U.K., where Brexit, among other things, may leave a student wondering about the future course of action.

What are the different options for students who finish their course from a university in the U.K. in terms of visa?

Thousands of graduates each year successfully transfer from a study visa in the U.K. to a post-study work visa, with nearly 30,000 companies across the country licensed to sponsor students. Graduates can stay and seek work for up to four months after the completion of their course, although most students start job hunting well before they graduate.

To move onto a tier 4 work visa, graduates need to secure a job paying at least £20,800 a year, and there are plenty of jobs in London paying at or above this level. Indications are that major U.K. employers are likely to increase recruitment of international graduates, not least because of their international outlook and language skills.

A British degree also means there are plenty of opportunities for students returning to India, who on average achieve much higher starting salaries than non-U.K. graduates.

What are the possible routes for students to find a job in the U.K. after the completion of their course?

British universities have excellent employability services to help international students find part-time work while they are studying and to find graduate employment after they finish their studies.

At Middlesex, our Employability Service provides one-to-one advice and guidance for life and not just when you are on your course. Students and graduates can talk with an advisor on campus or online, obtaining help with writing applications, rehearsing for interviews and finding the right pathway to career success.

We also provide support for budding entrepreneurs through our Enterprise Development Hub where you can develop business ideas, find a business coach and work with real clients. It’s possible for a graduate with a good business idea to obtain a special tier 1 graduate entrepreneur visa.

What are the ways in which an international student can build a network of professional contacts in the U.K.?

All universities organise regular campus events where students can meet employers and start building their professional networks. At Middlesex, we are lucky to be in London where so many major employers are based. We supplement our events with LinkedIn networking, which also helps connect our students with successful Middlesex alumni, who offer help with finding career openings, advice, and mentoring. We have a large number of placement and internship opportunities too, which are an excellent way to build a relationship with a company and later secure graduate employment with them.

What is the positive and negative outcome of Brexit from the point of view of an international student? Is it affecting the the social climate of the U.K. in any way?

Many people in the U.K. voted to leave the European Union because they wanted to re-gain sovereign powers that had been ceded to the EU, including immigration control. However, the country remains as international in outlook as it always has been, and most people realise that when we leave the EU, relationships with countries such as India, and the whole of Asia, will become even more important.

The UK’s exit from the European Union is likely to have little impact on Indian and other international students aspiring to study at a university in the U.K., although with a weaker pound, studying in the U.K. is a cheaper option than it has been in the past.

Although the general public sometimes express concern about the level of immigration to the U.K., surveys show that they do not regard international students as immigrants and welcome the contribution they make, including helping to meet shortages in high level skills if they choose to remain in the U.K. after graduating.

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