Jo Johnson has advocated for a four-year post-study visa for internationals to remain in the UK, as well as a prioritisation of students originating from India to avoid universities losing their world ranking.
The Covid-19 pandemic is hitting many sectors quite harsh, including UK universities; leaders of the global higher education market for decades, British institutions are expecting a loss in international student enrolment, decreased funding and a general difficulty to maintain activities.
“The competitive environment has changed because of coronavirus and how other countries are responding to the intensification of competition. And we can’t stand still.” – Jo Johnson
Johnson, like fellow former universities minister Chris Skidmore earlier this spring, has argued that the latest strategy to reach 600,000 international students by 2030 “lacked ambition” and would cause the UK to be less competitive compared to other countries. He strongly advised for a four-year post-study visa, as well as attracting twice as many Indian students by 2024. According to him, this is a necessary strategy for the British higher education system to survive the economic consequences of the pandemic, and change from “competing and conflicting government policy objectives in Westminster for over much of the last decade”.
Johnson also mentioned a possible policy change regarding language requirements and visa applications, arguing that leaving these processes to universities themselves would further allow the UK to remain the second most attractive university destination after the US.