The Principal of Edinburgh University said he was "jolly annoyed" at not being given the chance to take part in a new post-study visa scheme being piloted at four prestigious universities in England, despite the success of the previous scheme in Scotland.
Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea was speaking to the Scottish Affairs Committee during an evidence session on Scotland's place in Europe. He confirmed he had not been approached to participate in the new scheme, nor to his knowledge had anyone in the Scottish universities sector.
Edinburgh North and Leith MP, Deidre Brock, a member of the Scottish Affairs Committee said:-
"This is a staggering snub to Scotland's successful university sector from the UK Government. Despite broad-based support for the post-study work visa in Scotland, it seems not a single Scottish university was asked to take part in this new pilot – in spite of the idea originating in Scotland in the first place.
"Instead of wasting time on an exclusive new pilot in the south of England, the UK Government should look to Scotland for how successful the post-study work visa can be and bring it back without delay.
"Edinburgh University does a fantastic job attracting high calibre students and staff to come and contribute to the Scottish economy but the UK Government seems determined to chase this talent away.
"The SNP and the Scottish Government have long argued for the return of the post-study work visa scheme, but the UK Government has so far refused to listen. With Brexit set to make things even more difficult for universities, perhaps the UK Government will start taking heed of academics like Prof O'Shea and bring the post-study work visa back immediately."
·The new pilot scheme will allow non-EU postgraduates at four English Universities to stay on for 6 months after graduation, and will be trailed at Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College and Bath:https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/home-affairs/immigration/news/77840/home-office-pilots-more-generous-visa-scheme
·Sir Tim O'Shea is the Principal, University of Edinburgh and Convener of Universities Scotland's Research and Knowledge Exchange. He was speaking during an evidence session this morning (24/10/16) for the Scottish Affairs Committee enquiry into 'Scotland's place in Europe'
Transcript of comments below (view from 1:39:55 at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kwng8-RscPQ )
"The post study work scheme was a tremendous success. It was copied from Scotland in the rest of the UK and ran very very successfully. There was no evidence of any statistically significant abuse of that scheme and wherever we're going, we ought to bring that back."
On inclusion in the new pilot -
"I wasn't approached. I was jolly annoyed. If you look at the students that we recommend for visas to the Home Office our acceptance rate is more than 99%. We are incredibly punctilious in ensuring before the forms go in that the students have got everything that is necessary. In terms of our reliability in this domain, the University of Edinburgh is outstanding and known for it, operating at better than 99% success. So I'd have to say we were jolly annoyed. I'm not aware that any other Scottish University was consulted on this matter. I am aware that the other Scottish Universities – all the Scottish Universities are very good internationally. I think it's fair to say we were all jolly annoyed."
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