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New Scots: Attracting Fresh Talent to meet the Challenge of Growth


NEW SCOTS: Attracting Fresh Talent to meet the Challenge of Growth



"We already have the fantastic advantage of being a net importer of students, not just from the UK, but from overseas too. Our universities are world class, and we benefit from a massive influx of young people to study.

"We must now work with those students to encourage them to stay in Scotland after they graduate and we will draw together a strategy that will allow us to do exactly that before they graduate."

First Minister, Jack McConnell,
The Challenge of Growth, 25 February 2003

A critical component of our proposals is to harness the talents of every student who graduates from our universities and colleges. We must nurture and retain our home-grown talent, while at the same time encourage and help graduates from the rest of the UK, the European Union and non-EU countries to settle in Scotland after graduation.

Our higher education system is regarded as world class, and this global reputation means that Scotland is an increasingly attractive destination for overseas students. Latest figures (2001-02) show that there were 48,500 non-Scottish domiciled higher education students. Of these

  • Over 27,000 were from the rest of the UK (of whom over 5,000 were postgraduates)
  • Over 8,000 were from the rest of the EU (of whom over 3,000 were postgraduates)
  • 13,000 were from the rest of the world (of whom over 6,500 were postgraduates)
  • In addition there were 2,500 non-EU overseas students in Scottish Further Education colleges.

At the moment an overseas student can remain in the UK until 31 October in the year of their graduation.

We have reached an agreement with the Home Office which will allow overseas graduates from Scottish universities, who express the intention of living and working in Scotland, to stay on for two years beyond the current October date, to seek employment.

They will be allowed to remain in Scotland following graduation and seek any type of work during this time. After two years or earlier, graduates can switch into work permit employment or other legal migration routes for which they qualify.

The scheme will be up and running by summer 2005, and will apply to those graduating that year.

If overseas graduates are to take advantage of these changes, then they must get practical support to help them take advantage of this opportunity.

We will develop, with relevant partners, in particular the British Council, a scholarship scheme for overseas graduates. It will start in October 2004 and will allow graduates to combine a year of post-graduate study with a year of work experience. We are particularly keen to encourage scholarships in the area of entrepreneurship.

From October 2004 we will also appoint champions to encourage students to consider staying in Scotland after graduation.

We will work with employers to encourage the provision of work placements and traineeships to high quality overseas graduates.

Attracting a fresh pool of students every year to Scotland is crucial if we are to achieve our long-term objectives. Scottish universities are already regarded as among the best in the world, but we can always do better.

That is why we will provide government funding to help universities to co-ordinate the recruitment and support of overseas students.