Leigh Turner

Leigh Turner

Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna

Part of UK in Austria

4th November 2019 Vienna, Austria

British education: major visa reform for post-study visas

I commend a recent British Council blog, written by Education Director Maddalaine Ansell.

Ms Ansell writes about the major reform to post-work study visas for international students which the UK Government has announced will enter into force from 2020.  “From next year,” she writes, “students graduating from British higher education institutions with at least an undergraduate degree can apply to stay for two years to work or seek work.  If they find skilled work, they can switch into the skilled workers immigration route, which can lead to permanent settlement in the UK.”

The change will not directly affect Austrian students, who can already study in the UK for courses starting in the 2020-21 academic year on the same basis as students from Britain.  But for students in countries further afield, such as Turkey, China and India, it could be significant.  Ms Ansell notes that India already sends 21,500 students per year and China around 107,500; and that the changes to the visa rules has been positively received.

This matters because the UK already has around 350,000 international students every year, worth around £25 billion to the UK economy.  They come because the UK has brilliant universities; because of the English language; and because studying in the UK is enjoyable and rewarding.

“The new visa route,” Ms Ansell writes, “will support the UK’s ambitions to increase the number of international students studying in the UK each year to 600,000 by 2030, and to increase the direct economic benefit to £35bn per year.”  She quotes recent research showing that those studying in the UK are more likely to do business with the UK in the future; to build professional links with organisations in the UK; and to visit the UK again for tourism or leisure.

These findings are in line with my experience of alumni from UK universities in Ukraine, Turkey and Austria, many of whom I have met.  Many come home after rich and fulfilling experiences of studying in the UK which have made a profound and positive impression on them.  Come and try out a British university!

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About Leigh Turner

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of…

I hope you find this blog interesting and, where appropriate, entertaining. My role in Vienna covers the relationship between Austria and the UK as well as the diverse work of the UN and other organisations; stories here will reflect that.

About me: I arrived in Vienna in August 2016 for my second posting in this wonderful city, having first served here in the mid-1980s. My previous job was as HM Consul-General and Director-General for Trade and Investment for Turkey, Central Asia and South Caucasus based in Istanbul.

Further back: I grew up in Nigeria, Exeter, Lesotho, Swaziland and Manchester before attending Cambridge University 1976-79. I worked in several government departments before joining the Foreign Office in 1983.

Keen to go to Africa and South America, I’ve had postings in Vienna (twice), Moscow, Bonn, Berlin, Kyiv and Istanbul, plus jobs in London ranging from the EU Budget to the British Overseas Territories.

2002-6 I was lucky enough to spend four years in Berlin running the house, looking after the children (born 1992 and 1994) and doing some writing and journalism.

To return to Vienna as ambassador is a privilege and a pleasure. I hope this blog reflects that.

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