New International Graduates Scheme introduced in Britain

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The United Kingdom announced a new program called the International Graduates Scheme (IGS) on 28 March 2007. It will enable international students to stay in the UK for a year to work after completing their studies.

The new scheme will come into effect on 01 May 2007 and will replace the existing Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme (SEGS), which only allowed students of certain scientific disciplines to stay in the UK after graduation. To qualify, a student must have obtained a bachelor's degree or higher-level qualification in any subject from a recognized university or college in the UK.

The key features of the new scheme include:

• The existing SEGS list of eligible courses will expire at the end of April and will not be renewed. Instead, the Immigration Rules will be amended so that those applying after completing a qualification on 01 May 2007 will not be subject to any restrictions regarding study requirements.

• Unlike SEGS, any degree class (grade) will be eligible, except fail.

• Those with post-graduate certificates and diplomas, such as a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) will be eligible to apply.

• The IGS is meant to be a transitional route from studying in the UK to skilled employment. No extensions for SEGS will be permitted and is itself not a route to settlement.

• For a migrant to stay in the UK after the 12 month IGS period, they must apply for and meet the criteria of another immigration scheme, such as the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, Work Permits, Innovator, Persons seeking to establish themselves in a business, or Student leave.

"International students bring many benefits to the UK. After the United States, the UK is the country which attracts the most international students and we need to build on this enviable position," said Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education, Bill Rammell.

"Today's changes will help ensure Britain continues to attract students who contribute so much to the UK's economic and cultural life. Allowing them to work in the UK for a year will provide them with valuable work experience to augment the knowledge and skills they have acquired at our universities and colleges. It will also allow UK employers to benefit from skilled people who have gained UK qualifications and have experience of living in the UK.

"Higher Education Institutions have told us that a staying on scheme which is available to all graduates irrespective of subject of study will enhance the UK's attraction as a study destination in what has become an intensely competitive international student market. The new scheme underlines the importance which the Government attaches to maintaining and enhancing the UK's status as a leading exporter of higher education."

According to Immigration Minister Liam Byrne, students contribute over £3 billion a year to the UK economy. He added that they "should be given an opportunity to use their skills to contribute to Britain's cultural and economic prosperity."


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