PhD graduates, graduating from 2021, will be eligible for the new extension to three years post-graduation.

Stakeholders from the international education sector have welcomed the news, which also means a more customer-centric visa application experience, according to the government.

“Ministers should be congratulated for taking these bold steps”

The new Office for Talent will begin work immediately to review the effectiveness of current rules and ensure excellent customer service across the immigration system, the government announced – this is part of its Research and Development Roadmap announced.

“The R&D Roadmap sets out our plan to attract global talent, cut unnecessary red tape and ensure our best minds get the support they need to solve the biggest challenges of our time,” announced business secretary, Alok Sharma.

Vivienne Stern, director of UUKi, told The PIE News, “News that the Graduate Route, announced in September last year, is to be extended to allow PhD students to stay for three years rather than two is a fantastic development.”

She praised the UK ambition to increase research investment to £22 billion a year [by 2024/25], and to make the UK a more attractive place to come “for those who want to develop top-flight research careers”.

In addition, when the student route opens this autumn as part of the UK’s new points-based immigration system, there will be other improvements.

These include extending the window in which prospective students can make visa applications, removing study time limits at postgraduate level and allowing all students to switch any other type of visa from within the UK.

Chief executive of UUK, Alistair Jarvis, added, “The announcement of the Graduate Route is already having a huge impact on the UK’s attractiveness as a destination.

“This will give a competitive offer to some of the brightest minds from across the world who bring huge benefits to university campuses and local communities and can help to build the economy.”

The global talent scheme will also be opened up to EU citizens, which will allow highly-skilled scientists and researchers to come to the UK without needing a job offer.

“The UK is a great place to do a PhD,” said Stern. ” We will be fortunate to retain more PhD graduates to contribute to our research system and our economy after they complete their studies.”

“All of these steps show that the government really appreciates international students. Ministers should be congratulated for taking these bold steps.”

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