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‘Not heard of this’: Employers’ perceptions of the UK’s Graduate Route visa

  • 5 January 2023
  • By Nick Hillman
  • HEPI number Policy Note 43

A new HEPI Policy Note reveals a lack of understanding among employers of the post-study working rights of international students in the UK, even though the Graduate Route visa could provide the answer to many current skills shortages.

The Graduate Route visa was introduced in 2021 and allows international students to stay in the UK to work for two years (or three years for doctoral students), with none of the wage or job restrictions that apply to other work-related visas.

The paper ‘Not heard of this’: Employers’ perceptions of the UK’s Graduate Route visa (HEPI Policy Note 43) by Nick Hillman has been produced by HEPI and Kaplan working with the Institute of Directors. It finds: 

  • the current migration system is widely disliked by employers for the level of bureaucracy involved in recruiting people from other countries;
  • a sizeable minority of employers avoid recruiting people from overseas primarily because of the hassle, cost and time involved; and
  • the Graduate Route, which removes the bureaucracy for employers and enables former international students to stay in the UK to work, has not been knowingly used by more than a tiny handful of employers (3%), while a much bigger proportion (27%) say they are not familiar with it and a further 20% say they have not used the route and have no plans to do so.

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