The UK is an excellent place to study. It is home to a long list of renowned universities, many of which are often ranked among the top universities in the world. Recently the UK government has shown it is committed to attracting more foreign students – and making it simpler for innovative professionals from abroad to call the UK home.  

In July 2020, the UK published a Research and Development (R&D) Roadmap, which listed a number of exciting new policies and changes to support international students. 

In this article we’ll learn more about:  

  • The UK’s new “Office for Talent” created to make the immigration process smoother for skilled students  
  • New visa extensions for international students after graduation 
  • What this means post-Brexit 

What is the Office for Talent? 

The UK’s new Office for Talent has been set up to make it easier for international scientists, researchers and innovators to work and live in the UK. The team works from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office at 10 Downing Street. In the UK, the headquarters is often simply referred to as “Number 10.”  

According to the government announcement, the Office for Talent begawork right away on reviewing the UK’s current immigration rules, and will focus on ensuring the immigration system is simple and quick for both students and professionals alike. They will also help those coming to the UK better understand the opportunities on offer and break down any barriers they might face,” read the statement. 


How long can foreign students now stay in the UK after graduation?  

The UK has also announced some exciting new visa changes. PhD students who graduate in Summer 2021 will now be able to stay in the UK for an additional three years. International students who graduate with undergraduate or Master’s degrees can stay in the UK for two years. This news was announced back in 2019.  

Before, foreign students could only stay in the country for four months after graduation. This made it difficult for students to find jobs or begin their working lives in the UK. 

Now, these new changes give foreign students the freedom to nurture the connections they made while studying, build new relationships, establish themselves, and develop meaningful careers in the UK. 


What else did the UK announce?  

The UK has introduced a new points-based immigration system, made to streamline the visa process.  According to the roadmap, people interested in studying in the UK will now have more time to make a visa application. 

The UK also plans to get rid of study time limits for postgraduates. Previously, most students had to complete their studies in five yearsFinally, students will no longer need to leave the UK to switch visas – which will help to reduce lots of stress and worry for foreign learners. 

The UK announced it would also invest £300 million in science infrastructure at research institutes and universities. This could prove to be a plus for international scientists and researchers considering whether to study or live in the UK.


What does this mean post-Brexit?  

Brexit caused a lot of uncertainty for students in the UK from the European Union (EU). If you’re an EU citizen moving to the UK in 2021, you’ll now have to apply for a visa to study for longer than 6 months. If you were studying in the UK before this year, you can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme – which will let you continue living in the UK permanently.  

Learn more about the scheme here. 

The UK states the Research and Development Roadmap will “help to power up the economy and level out the UK.” Overall, the changes are set to help support foreign students in the UK – and particularly those in science, research, and innovation fields. 

To conclude, here’s a concise look at how student visas have evolved 

What were visa rules like before? What will students be able to do now?  
In the past, international students could only stay in the UK for four months after graduation. PhD students who graduate this summer can stay in the UK for three more years.  

Undergraduate and Master’s students can stay for two more years (announced in 2019).

Most students had to complete their degrees in five years. The UK will get rid of study limits for postgraduate students. 
Students had to leave the UK to apply for a new visa. Students will not need to leave the UK to switch visas. 
EU citizens did not have to apply for a visa to study in the UK. EU citizens must apply for a visa to study for longer than 6 months.  

EU citizens studying in the UK before 2021 can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme instead. 

For more information about how to apply for a UK student visa, don’t forget to check out our complete guide.  


Are you interested in working, studying, or living in the UK? 

PTE Academic UKVI is approved by the UK Home Office for visa purposes. Book your test 24 hours in advance, get your results typically within 2 days –  and bring your dream a step closer to reality.  

Learn more about PTE Academic UKVI and book your test today!  


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