Exploring the advantages of the UK’s Graduate Route review

In a promising move to enhance the quality of higher education and safeguard the well-being of international students, the UK government has initiated a comprehensive review of the Graduate visa program. This positive step aims to strengthen opportunities for international graduates, ensuring a robust and supportive environment for their post-study endeavours. 

By acknowledging the diverse goals and aspirations of international students, this initiative ensures that graduates can chart their own path to success, contributing meaningfully to the UK’s workforce and society. 

Empowering international graduates

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)’s decision to review the Graduate visa program stems from a commitment to elevate the integrity of the UK’s outstanding higher education sector. As advocates align efforts to protect post-study work rights, the move signifies a collaborative approach between the government and stakeholders. The review, extending until late 2024, provides a unique opportunity to elevate the postgraduate journey for international students. 


London Higher, membership organisation for universities and higher education colleges across the capital, also expressed their proactive stance; CEO Diana Beech spoke of the importance of maintaining the Graduate visa route. Moreover, UK Council for International Student Affairs’ (UKCISA) student impact questionnaire shows a commitment to ensuring positive outcomes for international students (which had run until 15 January). These efforts emphasise the education sector’s dedication to creating an environment that fosters the success of international students.  

Government commitment and assurance

Within the House of Commons, the parliamentary discussion, led by Liberal Democrat MP Richard Foord, seeks assurance on the continuity of the graduate immigration route, underlining his commitment to addressing concerns and providing certainty for international research students. 

The government, represented by Minister for Science, Research and Innovation Andrew Griffith, maintains a responsive stance. While confirmation about post-study work opportunities is pending, the ongoing communication reflects an openness to collaborate and address concerns positively.

Growth and insights

Universities UK International (UUKi), a collective voice of universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, through CEO Vivienne Stern MBE, contributes to the positive discourse by emphasising the importance of stability and success. The UUKi acknowledges the success of the Graduate visa route and role in attracting diverse international students to contribute to the UK’s academic landscape.

While the review targets conflict prevention, the positive aspects of the Graduate route are not overlooked. Jamie Arrowsmith, director of UUKi, underscores the sector’s desire for stability and certainty, signalling a commitment to continued success for both international students and UK universities.

The Graduate visa route: eligibility and process  

The Graduate visa route serves as a stepping stone to permanent residency through the Skilled Worker route. This positive trajectory allows graduates to seamlessly transition from post-study work to long-term settlement, fostering stability and a sense of belonging in the UK. 

Furthermore, this allows graduates to navigate the job market, change roles and grow their careers as needed. This adaptability fosters an environment where international students can explore their potential without being confined to rigid structures, promoting personal and professional growth. 

The eligibility criteria for international students ensures that a broad spectrum of graduates can benefit from the Graduate route. International students who have successfully completed an undergraduate degree or higher at a compliant Higher Education Provider with a valid Tier 4 or Student visa are eligible for the Graduate route. No financial proof or English language proficiency demonstration is required for application, as completion of a UK university degree serves as sufficient evidence. A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) number from the current visa is necessary for application. 


For the financial aspect, this also positively addresses the fee structure for the Graduate route application. The recent Graduate route application fee increase to £822 (effective from 4 October 2023) is an investment in a well-structured and supportive post-graduate system. 

When applying for the Graduate route, the individual must be present in the United Kingdom. Applying from outside the UK will result in rejection and denial of entry, and potential loss of eligibility for the entire route. If the applicant’s visa expires during the processing period, they are allowed to stay in the UK. Furthermore, non-refundable application fees apply.   

Recent remarks by Home Secretary James Cleverly stated that the government’s commitment in reviewing the Graduate route to ensure its proper utilisation and maintain the integrity and quality. This focuses on preventing challenges and possible conflicts which aligned with the vision of creating a supportive environment for international graduates. 

Celebrating positive change

Stakeholders express private optimism about the future of the Graduate route. This is rooted in the understanding that changes are geared towards maintaining the visa’s significance, aligning with the sector’s larger goals.  

This reveals the benefits and opportunities presented by the ongoing review. By enhancing the post-graduate experience, this encourages a positive outlook for international students, assuring them of a bright and supportive future in the UK. 


To know more about study options and our partner institutions across Europe, check out our GSP platform or reach out to our Business Development Managers for more information.

More Posts

To get the latest updates,
subscribe to our mailing list

Subscribe to newsletter

Request a demo

An upgrad GSP expert will reach out to discuss your needs.

Book a demo