Lib Dems pledge to give visas to graduating students from abroad
But only those from STEM subjects to begin with
Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said “It is ludicrous that we take in international students, train them, and then as soon as they are skilled and ready to work, the Conservatives boot them out of the country.”
The Tab met with Cambridge’s Liberal Democrat candidate and former MP Julian Huppert to discuss the newly announced pledge. Having taught biology (a STEM subject) at the University, he seemed like the right person to talk to.
The visa will give students who have just graduated six months to find employment. Huppert said, “once you’ve studied here, at a university doing a real, you know, a proper degree, you then have the right to stay while you’re looking for work and when you have that first job.”
Huppert did not say how long the visa would last, though he did state that it would be confined to “the beginning period” of a graduate’s first job.
Ideally, the Liberal Democrats would like international graduates from all subjects to receive these visas, but that will not be the case from the start. Huppert stated “we would like to get that to people from all subjects, that’s the plan, but the first step would be STEM subjects, because there is such a desperate need to get more people into STEM in this country.”
But when questioned as to how they would ensure that grads would go into research-based careers, Huppert did not suggest a solution, though he did state that “obviously I would hope that people would do more socially productive roles.”
He put great emphasis on the importance of higher education in the UK, calling it “our greatest export.” Huppert believes that these visas would act as “a fantastic sales and marketing effort” for UK universities, bringing in more international students who might otherwise go to other English-speaking countries like Canada, the USA and Australia.
The visas would be available to all international students at “any university” and, once fully implemented, to those studying all sorts of subjects – Huppert said, “it doesn’t have to be a classic degree.”
During the coalition, the Lib Dems alienated many students after failing to block the rise in tuition fees. This pledge speaks directly to students in the UK. Does it convince you?