What Next For The Graduate Visa Route? - Image of 4 skilled workers including a UK Student

What Next For The Graduate Visa Route?

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) assessed the effectiveness of the UK Graduate Visa route, declaring suggestions for a potential format change.

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The recent announcement made by the UK Government stated that they have commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to review if the Graduate Visa route is actually working in the interest of the UK economy. Which, from the latest statement, does not bode well for the existence of this visa, especially in its current format.

The UK Government's Plan

An article produced by Times Higher Education highlights that in the MAC's recent report on the Graduate Visa, the conclusion was that it did not meet the UK Government's stated aim, namely to attract the brightest and the best to stay in the UK. This is because more students on this visa are ending up in lower-paid jobs, as opposed to talented students working in high-skilled graduate jobs.

The MAC report included their previous recommendations against the introduction of a separate graduate visa, because of concerns that it would lead to an increase in low-wage migration and universities marketing themselves on post-study employment potential rather than educational quality.


Thal's Thoughts On The Situation

With this mindset already in place, it would not surprise me if the MAC recommends, at the conclusion of their review, that the UK Government scrap the Graduate Visa in favour of employers recruiting graduates under the Skilled Worker Visa. This recommendation will align with the UK Government's current thought process, which is that only the most highly skilled jobs be sponsored under the skilled worker criteria, hence the increase of the minimum salary threshold from £26,200 to £38,700. The UK Government will appease students, employers and universities by saying that the new entrant salary discount (30% of the going rate) will remain when sponsoring UK graduates. The UK Government have since announced confirmation, on the 4th of December, that they will not be scrapping the new entrant discount.


How to navigate this uncertain landscape:

  1. Students - Expect the best, prepare for the worst, meaning that in your shoes, I would be trying to secure skilled worker sponsorship or looking at other visa categories that I might qualify for.


  1. University career teams - You need to prepare your evidence (MAC academics are influenced by data) showing evidence of your international students securing graduate roles on graduate visas and examples of where this would not be possible where the entry salary for sponsorship increased to £38,700 (even with a 30% new entrant discount).


  1. Employers - Provide evidence to the MAC of the ability to be able to recruit graduates under the graduate visa, allowing you to try and test their work before committing to the cost of skilled worker sponsorship. Also, preparing evidence of how this visa route allows you to set salaries in your organisation based on regional variations and the concern that without the graduate route, there could be a disparity between salaries for resident workers and migrant workers. The latter point will be particularly applicable to graduate roles that require training on the job such as trainee pharmacists, trainee opticians etc.


To Conclude

Given the prevailing mindset, it would not be surprising if the MAC recommends the discontinuation of the Graduate Visa in favour of employers recruiting graduates under the Skilled Worker Visa. This aligns with the UK Government's emphasis on sponsoring only highly skilled jobs, evident in the significant increase in the minimum salary threshold. Despite this, the government has assured that the new entrant salary discount for UK graduates will persist.



How can Paragon Law help?

As always, if you have any additional queries, please do not hesitate to contact your Paragon Law relationship lead.

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