PART of the UK’s new post-Brexit immigration system – its post-study offering for students – compares poorly with international competitors, a new report has found.

The analysis found that countries are increasingly developing migration policies aimed at attracting and retaining international students.

Among the key findings of the Scottish Government-commissioned review were that the UK Government should introduce a more competitive post-study work offer which takes into consideration ease of application and application timescales, programme length, work entitlement and opportunities for applying to the programme after leaving the UK.

It found an attractive post-study work offer in itself is not sufficient to ensure long-term retention of international students and called on the UK Government to implement additional measures supporting their longer term retention.

These included language and employability support, integration programmes, provision of information and advice on conditions of stay and employment opportunities.

Dr Paulina Trevena, of the University of Glasgow, carried out the review, which looked at nine countries – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US, and, within Europe France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden.

“Opportunities for gaining work experience are important for international students,” said Trevena.

“Meanwhile, the UK’s current and proposed post-study work offer is far less attractive than in its competitor countries.

“Brexit and the negative atmosphere around immigration also discourages international students from coming to the UK, especially those from EU countries.

“If the UK Government aims to keep a competitive edge in attracting and retaining global talent, it should consider revising migration policies towards international students and strengthen practical support for those wishing to stay.”

Scottish Migration Minister, Ben Macpherson, said Scotland – like many other developed countries – faces challenges coping with an ageing population and labour shortages, and the need to attract skilled labour in the knowledge economy.

“Brexit and the UK government are making this worse, as the UK looks increasingly insular and less attractive,” he said.

“The Scottish Government has long argued for the return of the post-study work visa, to allow students studying for all degrees at bachelor level and above to be able to remain in the UK for two years after graduating.

“UK government immigration policies are not delivering adequately for Scotland. We increasingly need tailored immigration policies that better meet Scotland’s needs.

“The evidence and our experience to date shows that we hugely benefit from migration, and new Scots settling here, supporting our economy and enriching our communities.

“We will continue to press for the reintroduction of a post-study work route in Scotland, so that people who study here can then build their lives and careers here.”

Immigration lawyer, Usman Aslam, said that while the Tory Government said they wanted only skilled workers, the current system pushed highly skilled people away.

“Let’s be honest here, these skilled people want to bring their expertise to Scotland and our economy,” he told The National.

“Can we blame them if they decide they would rather contribute to other countries who we are in competition with, all because we have a very outdated post study system?

“I don’t see the exercise in letting highly skilled people in, then effectively handing them over to other competitive countries who can benefit from them.

“We need a system tailored to Scotland, as the situation here is concerning at best.”