Britain is to allow international students to stay on and work in the country for one year after completing their studies under a scheme to be launched later this spring, it was officially announced Wednesday.
The scheme, which comes into effect on May 1, was announced by Bill Rammell, Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education.
Under the scheme, international students who have obtained a bachelors degree or higher level qualification in any subject from a recognized British higher education institution will be able to remain in the nation for a further 12 months.
The scheme will replace the Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme, which was established in 2004 and only encouraged those who had graduated in certain scientific disciplines to stay in Britain to work.
"International students bring many benefits to the UK. Today's changes will help ensure Britain continues to attract students who contribute so much to the UK's economic and cultural life," said Rammell.
"Allowing them to work in the UK for a year will provide them with valuable work experience to augment the knowledge and skills they have acquired at our universities and colleges. It will also allow UK employers to benefit from skilled people who have gained UK qualifications and have experience of living in the UK," Rammell added.
The minister said the scheme underlines the importance which the government attaches to maintaining and enhancing the UK's status as a leading exporter of higher education.
However, the international students will be expected to return home at the end of their year working in the UK, according to the Immigration Minister Liam Byrne.
To stay in Britain beyond the 12 months granted under this scheme, international graduates will be required to apply and meet the criteria of one of five suitable immigration categories, namely the Highly Skilled Migrant Program, Work Permits, Innovator, Persons seeking to establish themselves in business, or Student leave.