Its all ‘MAC and Cheese’ for international students | Hudson McKenzie

Its all ‘MAC and Cheese’ for international students

September 18, 2018 | Immigration, Latest Thinking, News

The Migration Advisory Committee published its report recently which looks at relaxing immigration rules in an effort to make it simpler for Tier 4 students to switch into Tier 2 work category, thereby easing the process for hiring international students.

We welcome MAC’s recommendations as they recognize the impact international students have towards the UK economy and also acknowledges the fact that domestic students are in favour of studying alongside international students. The general consensus seems to be for a more ‘generous’ period of leave for students, after they have finished their studies, allowing them to search for suitable employment which would allow them to switch into Tier 2 (General) category from within the UK. This would potentially create a demand for a variety of degrees thereby producing a diverse range of qualifications.

Another welcome news is that the MAC has recommended that there be no cap on the numbers of international students, although they have emphasized they should not be removed from net migration statistics. It has also recommended that the rules for work while studying on a Tier 4 visa and dependent rights should remain unchanged.

They have also suggested extending period of leave to six months for master’s students, and 12 months for PhD students.

Impact of Brexit

MAC has recommended that post-Brexit, EU nationals in the United Kingdom should not be required to obtain a visa, whereas any longer periods might require a student visa, although this is still an area of uncertainty. The report also confirms that institutions are currently free to set their own tuition fees, which the MAC feels is appropriate. It is likely that this will continue even after Brexit. In terms of post-study work, MAC recommends that EU students should be brought under Tier 4 category of the Points Based System.

We have summarized below MAC’s recommendations:

  • Retain no cap on number of international students.
  • Government and the sector should continue to work together to grow the number of international students.
  • International students should not be removed from the net migration statistics.
  • Rules of work while studying and dependent work rights should remain unchanged.
  • Widening of the window in which applications for switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 can be made.
  • Post-study leave period extended to six months for master’s students, though with a more thorough review of whether this is appropriate.
  • The 12 months leave to remain after PhD completion to be incorporated into the original visa duration, subject to meeting progress requirements and course completion, for eligibility to remain in the UK after course end date. This would replace the existing Doctoral Extension scheme that allows the same rights but has to be applied for with associated visa costs.
  • Previous Tier 4 students, who passed their Level 6 (or above) qualification in the UK, should be entitled to a two-year period during which they can apply out-of-country for a Tier 2 visa, under the same rules as current in-country Tier 4 to Tier 2 switches.

To view full report, please click on the link MAC Report- Impact of International Students in the UK.

If you would like to discuss this article further or have any general legal enquiries, please contact one of our immigration solicitors on 020 3318 5794 or via email at

Author: Rahul Batra and Vaida Lukaite.