London: International students, including Indians, in the UK are likely to be allowed to work for longer hours and take up more part time jobs to plug labour shortages in various sectors across the country, according to a report.
Presently, foreign students in the UK, who number around 6,80,000, are allowed to work for a maximum of 20 hours a week during term time.
However, discussions have begun within the government to raise this cap to 30 hours or remove it entirely in a bid to boost its economy, The Times reported.
International students made up 476,000 of the 1.1 million migrants who arrived in the country last year.
Of these, India became the largest source of students with 161,000 students, including 33,240 dependents, coming to the UK last year.
There are 1.3 million empty posts, almost half a million more than before the pandemic, and according to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, “businesses are crying out for workers”.
Government sources told The Times that lifting the cap on foreign students’ hours was “part of a swathe of ideas being considered”, adding that the idea is at a nascent stage.
But what could put a spanner in the works is Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s plans to reduce the number of foreign students coming to the country.
With the net migration numbers rising to an estimated record of 504,000 last year, Braverman has drawn up proposals to reduce the number, which includes shortening the duration foreign students can stay in Britain post their course.
Curbs are also being considered on the number of dependents allowed into the UK and restricting foreign students attending “low-quality” courses.
However, according to the Department of Education, the restrictions will bankrupt UK universities, which depend on foreign students for money.
According to UK-based New Way Consultancy, foreign students and their dependents contributed to the UK economy not just through fees of 10,000 pounds to 26,000 pounds but also via an NHS surcharge of 400 pounds a year for the student and 600 pounds for a dependent.
It warned that curbs on graduate work visas will force Indian students to shift to countries like Australia and Canada, ultimately leading to the end of the student market in the UK.