All Change For Students From Abroad Aiming To Work Here

All change for students from abroad aiming to work here
An MBA will continue to be a route to a job in the UK

Stephen Hoare
From The Times
February 28, 2008

THE City of Londons unique position as a hub of global finance depends on its ability to attract the worlds best graduates. A highly mobile cadre of leading executives many with MBAs move freely between New York, Frankfurt, Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai.

The Government recognised the UKs need to attract global talent when, in 2002, it introduced, the highly skilled migrant programme (HSMP), designed to allow well qualified people to come to the UK to look for work. Two years ago the programme was extended to automatically grant individuals the right to work in the UK for a year if they had an MBA from one of the worlds top 50 business schools. This included graduates from ten UK business schools, Ashridge, Bradford, Cass, Cranfield, Manchester, LBS, Judge, Sad, Strathclyde and Warwick.

Those who had not graduated from one of the top 50 still had to qualify through the highly skilled migrant programmes points system, based not just on qualifications but on their age, earnings and proficiency in English.

Now the system is about to change. From next month the skilled migrant programme is expected to be rolled into the Home Office Border & Immigration Agencys new five-tier system. The move is part of a package of border controls, which include finger-printing of visa applicants, announced last month by Liam Byrne, the Minister for Borders and Immigration.

The exact details have yet to be clarified but the new regime appears fairer for people with MBAs, as everybody will have to apply for visas through the points system, and nobody will be granted an automatic right to work because they have graduated from an eligible business school.

Additionally, a Home Office spokesman says: All MBAs who graduate in the UK can apply to remain for two years. That compares with one year under the previous system.

Another significant change is that employers will be asked to endorse visa applications for any overseas staff with MBAs that they employ. Business schools generally welcome the news. David Begg, principal of Tanaka Business School, Imperial College, says: The new system gives all MBA students an equal opportunity to work in the UK, and means that potential students can choose the business school that has the course best suited to their own background and needs without being influenced by visa issues.

Simon Tankard, director of careers service at Oxfords Sad business school, says: Its never been easier to stay and work in the UK as a student and as a graduate. Its great for employment and it is reflected in international mobility figures.

Typically 90 per cent of Sads full-time MBA programme is made up of overseas students, a third from Asia, a third from Europe and a third from North America. According to Sads figures, 67 per cent of graduates transfer between countries pre to post MBA. Sads marketing materials highlight the fact that students are likely to be granted a visa to work in the UK, and that financial institutions, in particular are keen to employ them.

Employment prospects define the UK market for overseas students. Tankard says: The overseas students we see are highly mobile and our graduates are sought after. That said, fit and culture are hugely important, and if you are going to stay and work in the UK, language and communication are at least as important as technical skills. That is why business schools such as Sad pay considerable attention to ensuring that they recruit overseas students with the best degrees and with excellent language skills.

Not all overseas students believe that the new rules will make it easier for them to stay in the UK. Satarupa Ghosh, who graduated from Cranfield last year (see box, right), says: The new visa rules will make life more difficult for MBA students like myself. It will make getting a job in the UK much more difficult as the company will have to apply for a visa on my behalf. And I dont see all companies being eager to do that.

Chris Jeffrey, director of the executive MBA programme at Cass, believes that the link between MBA and visas has been oversold. He says: I dont think business schools should be selling the MBA on the basis that you can come and work here in the UK. The MBA is about preparing people to work in any business anywhere in the world. I would be very wary about accepting students who applied for our MBA just to get a visa.


SATARUPA GHOSH, 30, below, graduated from Cranfield School of Management last year, Stephen Hoare writes.

Ghosh explains: I have just started working with the Royal Bank of Scotlands insurance division in Bromley, Kent, after graduating from Cranfield.

My intention had always been to work in the UK, and I knew about the highly skilled migrant visa programme before I applied to Cranfield. The scheme did affect my choice of business school as I wanted to be sure of getting an MBA without having to worry about not getting permission to work in the UK. My long-term plan is to stay, and at the moment I am furthering my experience.

I have a physics degree from Calcutta University and a masters degree in electronics. For the five years prior to studying for my MBA I worked in India, the US and the UK for the IT division of Tata Consultancy Services, part of the Indian multinational company.

The MBA has enabled me to develop general management skills in addition to my IT background, and has prepared me to work in the UK. I am a lot sharper.