The UK government’s announcement of a new work visa option aimed at attracting top graduates has elicited some backlash because the list of eligible institutions features no universities from Africa, Latin America or South Asia. The Conversation Africa’s Nontobeko Mtshali asked Orla Quinlan, Director of Internationalisation at Rhodes University in South Africa, to share her thoughts on the implications such visa programmes have for international integration and intercultural efforts in higher education.
What has the UK government announced?
The UK government recently introduced a new “High Potential Individual” short-term work visa. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the intention was put “ability and talent first” – not where people come from.
The conditions of the high potential individual visa allow a stay of two or three years in the UK for graduates holding a master’s degree or a PhD, respectively. This visa can’t be extended, but holders may apply for longer-term visas.
Applicants need to have financial resources to acquire the visa and to sustain themselves while searching for employment. The high potential individual visa doesn’t pertain to international students who are already registered at universities in the UK.
But the visa is restricted to graduates from specific universities featuring in the top 50 places of two international university rankings.
Who is eligible?
The most recent list of eligible universities comprised more than two dozen US universities. Other institutions are in Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and Sweden.
Each of these universities appeared in at least two of the following ranking systems: the Times Higher Education world university rankings, the Academic Ranking of World Universities and the Quacquarelli Symonds world university rankings.
African universities don’t appear in the top 50 of any of these ranking systems. The criteria they use consider aspects like the university’s research output, high…