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Post-study Work Visas

– in the Scottish Parliament on 21st January 2016.

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Photo of John Mason John Mason Scottish National Party

6. To ask the First Minister what discussions the Scottish Government has had with the United Kingdom Government regarding the possible reintroduction of the post-study work visa. (S4F-03177)

Photo of Nicola Sturgeon Nicola Sturgeon Scottish National Party

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.

Photo of John Mason John Mason Scottish National Party

I thank the First Minister for that answer. Does she agree that not only do the students themselves benefit from being able to work after their studies but the Scottish economy and Scottish society benefit from having those people living here?

The First Minister:

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.

Photo of Tricia Marwick Tricia Marwick None

Thank you. That ends First Minister’s question time. We now move to members’ business. Members who are leaving the chamber should do so quickly and quietly.