MAC review recommends retaining the UK’s Graduate route in its current form

Upon concluding its rapid review of the Graduate route, the UK’s Migratory Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended retaining the immigration stream.

According to the released report, the MAC has found no evidence of widespread abuse—that is, deliberate non-compliance with immigration rules—on the Graduate route. It concludes that the route is not undermining the integrity and quality of the UK’s higher education system. Thus, the MAC has suggested that the Graduate route be kept in place and remain unchanged.

 

Effects of new rules

The MAC pointed out that recent rule changes surrounding the termination of student dependants’ rights are already having a significant impact on migration levels and student demand in the UK. It cautions that adding restrictions or closing the Graduate route could risk “overcorrection.”

The review highlights the financial vulnerability of many higher education institutions. As current funding models are greatly dependent on international student fees, the MAC suggests that any big changes to the Graduate route should only be considered once structural funding issues in the higher education sector have been addressed.

 

Call for transparency on agent use

The review also raised concerns about the role of recruitment agents in the promotion and support of international students. The MAC has found that some agents and subagents are mis-selling UK higher education, exploiting students in the process.

While there exists an independent Agent Quality Framework, to which almost 16,000 agents from over 120 countries have signed up, the MAC recommends a more transparent system. It urges the government to establish a UK-wide mandatory registration system for international recruitment agents and subagents. It also proposes that universities should be required to disclose data on their recruitment agent activities.

 

Need for data-driven policies and changes

After its review, the MAC recognised a need to ground policies in solid evidence and accurate data. It urges the government to only open new migration routes or make significant policy changes when a clear plan for data collection and monitoring has been laid out to assess effectiveness against objectives and possible impacts.

 

Welcome response from the international education sector

The MAC’s recommendation to retain the Graduate route was largely welcomed by the international education community. Vivienne Stern, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said that the conclusions drawn from the report are “extremely important and welcome” and emphasise the contribution of international students to the UK’s economy and labour market, as well as the financial stability of the international education sector.

Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russel Group, echoes this sentiment stating that the Graduate route “plays a crucial role in ensuring the UK is an attractive destination for global talent.”

upGrad GSP is committed to helping international students achieve their dreams. We prioritise transparency in our services and hope to support students in their educational journey. To stay updated on the latest international education news in the UK, keep an eye out on our blog or contact our business development experts today.

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