Dr Whitford questions the Minister for Brexit in Parliament as shown in Parliament Live

Education PQs – the effect of visa caps on our Universities and NHS

Education Questions 29/4

While education is a devolved issue, it is important that we raise issues which affect Scotland, particularly where reserved matters, such as immigration, impact on devolved competences.

I asked the Minister about how the UK Government is proposing to remove home fee status from EU students after Brexit. This is something which has seen the Norwegian High Education Minister advise Norwegian students to avoid studying in the UK.

The clip below shows the Minister for Education’s answer…

Directly, after my question, my SNP colleague John McNally  asked how, in the event of a No-deal Brexit, a student from the EU studying in Scotland would be able to complete their course when they can only be granted a visa for 36 months. In Scotland, the majority of courses are 48 months and, of course, for medics, dentists and some others, courses are 5 years across all of the UK. As such, this visa would not cover their courses.

The response to the question proved that Scotland will be unfairly disadvantaged as the students will have to reapply for another year after completing their third year, risking the chance of being denied and not being able to complete their course. When looking at options of where to study, why would someone choose to go somewhere where they are not guaranteed to be able to stay to complete their studies! This is outrageous and illustrates, yet again, that Scotland is treated like a secondary nation by this UK Government.

An urgent question followed asking the Secretary of State for Education to make a statement on Government policy regarding EU students after the UK leaves the EU and I took the opportunity to ask how the four UK NHS services can tackle workforce shortages if medical and dental students who want to come to the UK are put off by the risk of having to reapply for a visa after their third and fourth years to complete their studies. As we have seen over the years, many of these students stay here and work in our NHS once they qualified. As you will see from the clip below, the Minister said nothing in response to provide reassurance..