International Students & Graduates – Living in the UK

Fjollë from Study in UK has provided a useful guide for international students wishing to study in the UK, or remain here once they have graduated.
London street

London – Photo by Sabrina Mazzeo on Unsplash 

International students in the UK enjoy a comfortable living environment and benefit from the numerous opportunities to advance and enhance their skills, both personally and professionally. Getting to the UK as an international student, either from EU countries or non-EU countries, might be a challenge, simply because the UK attracts some of the best students worldwide, making its education institutions highly competitive.
Regardless of the challenges, visa issues, and university entrance requirements, thousands of international students make it to the UK on a yearly basis. According to Studying in the UK, there were around 400,000 international students pursuing their qualifications in the UK in 2019. Many of these students want to return to their home countries and contribute with their newly-learned skills, but a large number want to remain in the UK even after graduation.


The Good News Is…

For international students who want to live in the UK even after graduation, the good news is that the opportunity has become much more accessible.

The UK has announced the creation of a new Graduate Immigration Route, also known as the post-study work visa for international students in the UK. This means that these students will be allowed to remain in the UK for a period of up to two years after they graduate in order to find employment. Essentially, students who enter the UK in the 2020/2021 academic year, or later, will be eligible to apply for the graduate route.

The new graduate route will be introduced in the summer of 2021, meaning that students who already have a Tier 4 visa during that time, might also be able to benefit from it. Students whose visa expires before the post-study work visa is introduced, will not be eligible to benefit. This visa cannot be extended, but in the case of the graduate finding an appropriate job within the two-years, they might be able to switch into a skilled route and be allowed to settle in the UK.

Read more on the post-study work visa here.



Finding a Job as a Graduate in the UK

Graduate boy 
Graduates face a few challenges when it comes to finding an appropriate job in the UK, which meets the visa requirements. However, the UK has plenty of job opportunities for everyone, even though the market is highly competitive. The average salary in the UK is satisfactory to a wide majority and this is also one of the reasons why the UK is so popular among international students, but it’s not the only reason.

Citizens of the EU or EEA, have been able to benefit from the same conditions as UK citizens, up until now. When Brexit reaches full effect in January 2021, the conditions and requirements are expected to change for students coming from these countries, including tuition fees. One thing that will still be available for international students (who need a visa) after graduation in the UK is switching to a general work visa (Tier 2) upon finding employment which meets the visa requirements.


Who Can Apply for a Tier 2 (General) Visa?

To be eligible for a Tier 2 visa in the UK, individuals must have been offered a skilled job in the UK, and they must be from countries outside of the EEA and Switzerland. Among visa requirements, internationals must be employed by a licensed sponsor in order to apply to live in the UK and provide proof that they are being paid the appropriate salary for the job. Typically, the salary must be at least £30,000 per year or the ‘appropriate rate’ for the job at hand.


What Other Visa Options Are Available?

There are numerous other visa options available to live and work in the UK after graduation. Apart from the Tier 2 visa which is the main immigration route to work in the UK. Depending on the circumstances, graduates may also apply for:

  • Start-Up Visa: This is a visa option for graduates who show high potential in entrepreneurship and are interested in starting a business in the UK.
  • Tier 5 Youth Mobility: This option is for nationals of countries like Australia, Canada, Japan, Hong-Kong, South Korea, Monaco, Taiwan, and New Zealand. Applicants must also be between the ages of 18 and 30.

Depending on different personal circumstances, visa options may vary. More information can be found on the UK Government website here.

Related information: Top UK Universities for Graduate Employability 2020.



What Is the Labour Market Like?

UK graduates tend to succeed in the job market after earning their qualifications from one of the many world-class universities in the UK. Just recently, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) has published its findings on Graduate Outcomes, regarding where students stand in the labour market, approximately 15 months after graduation. (The survey had around 770,000 respondents, out of which almost 389,000 had known outcomes).

The statistics show that 81% of graduates were either employed or doing volunteer work approximately 15 months after graduation, 10% of which were both employed and in further education. 5% of respondents said they were unemployed or due to start work soon, at the time of the survey. Out of all respondents with known outcomes, over 18,000 of employed graduates were from other EU countries, and just under 35,000 were from non-EU countries.

Find out more details here.

The UK’s economy is one of the largest in Europe, and its unemployment rate is relatively low, standing at around 4%. The labour market in the UK is composed of not only UK nationals, but millions of other non-UK nationals. The majority of jobs are largely competitive, especially in areas where economic growth is concentrated, such as in London. One of the skills that gives individuals a good head start is great knowledge of the English language as well as a second language.


Where to Look for a Job?

The job search can be done across numerous platforms and ways. One of the most common ways of job-hunting is through online platforms such as job portals, company websites, online profiles, and so on. Even searching for a job is a skill that should be learned (see the useful links at the end of this article). An alternative that often proves helpful when looking for employment is making use of networking, since many jobs are not advertised and only look for employees through word of mouth. So, join LinkedIn, attend networking events, and simply put yourself out there.


Find out more about where to look for jobs & how to improve your employability:

Where to Search
Useful resources, from lists of the top graduate employers to business publications

Applying for Jobs
How to tackle graduate job applications & succeed at each stage of the recruitment process. Different ways of applying & alternative routes into employment

Graduate Training Schemes
What to expect from the graduate scheme application process, plus tips for success

Alternatives to Grad Schemes
Various routes into employment, including internships & work experience, working for smaller companies, speculative applications etc.

Why networking is important & how to get started


More from international students:

Q & A … Moving to the UK to Study
Marisol came from Mexico to study for her Masters degree. She talks about studying & living abroad & shares tips for anyone planning to come to the UK.

Life as an International Student During the UK Lockdown
Judit is a Spanish student, who was in her first year at an English university when the UK went into lockdown. She describes her experience & how she coped being far from home.


Fjollë Avdijaj contributor

About the author

Fjollë is a Junior Outreach Specialist at NextSeo.
Find her on Instagram @fjolleavdijajj

“Stop assuming things are not attainable for you. You decide that!”
Study in UK
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