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Since the publication of the Smith commission report, the Government has remained committed to working with our UK counterparts to ensure that a post-study work route is reintroduced in Scotland. That has been raised with the UK Government at a number of meetings at ministerial and official level.
We are therefore deeply disappointed—and I have to say that I am rather angry—that without any real consultation the Secretary of State for Scotland recently indicated that the UK Government has no intention of reintroducing the post-study work visa for Scotland. I understand that the UK Minister for Security and Immigration intends to meet the cross-party post-study-work steering group and I expect and hope that the United Kingdom Government will take the concerns of the Scottish Government and the united voices of Scottish stakeholders fully on board. I believe that there is consensus in Parliament and out there in Scotland that the post-study work visa should be reintroduced. It is time that the UK Government got on and did it.
I whole-heartedly agree with that. If we are going to invest in educating the best and the brightest people from all over the world, surely it makes sense to try to encourage them, once they graduate from university, to make a contribution to our economy—to give something back to economic and social life here in Scotland.
Of course, we know that people who come to Scotland from all parts of the world make a real and rich contribution to our society, just as Scots who go from here to other parts of the world do there. The UK Government’s actions on this issue are short-sighted and wrong-headed and I urge it to change its mind. If there is any credence whatsoever to what we keep hearing about a respect agenda, the UK Government will recognise the consensus on the issue and do something about it.