Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart has hailed the contribution of international students to Scotland and called for the reintroduction of the fresh talent initiative to encourage foreign nationals to study in Scotland.
Ms McTaggart, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Minister for Europe and International Development, made her calls during a debate at the Scottish Parliament on post-study work visas on Tuesday 24th March.
The fresh talent initiative was introduced in 2004 by First Minister Jack McConnell and the Scottish Labour-led Scottish Executive to encourage foreign nationals to study in Scotland. It was abolished by the UK Government in 2012 but Scottish Labour want it reinstated, arguing that enabling overseas students to work in Scotland after they complete their studies would help supply the confident graduates that the employers who recruit students need.
Ms McTaggart argued that foreign students have been essential to the growth of Scottish universities and stated that it was imperative that we encourage more international students to come here. She also stated her support for the removal of university students from net migration targets.
Ms McTaggart said “Immigration, especially of young people and students, is a good thing for Scotland; the benefits to our culture, economy, skills and productivity are vital to the country’s continued growth. Too often, immigration is shown in a negative light, but it is essential that we recognise its importance.
“Post-study work visas would benefit not only the education sector but the business sector. The graduates who would be able to continue to live and work in Scotland would give back to the economy and contribute invaluable skills to the workforce throughout the country.
“To meet the needs of our education and business sectors, it is imperative that we encourage more international students to come to Scotland. The Labour Party believes that international students have a significant contribution to make to our education system, and to our social and cultural life and economy, and that’s why we support post-study work visas.”
You can read Ms McTaggart’s speech here.