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Manufacturing group EEF accuses Government of 'acting unreasonably' over international graduates

EEF has submitted evidence to a House of Lords committee claiming the Government is damaging employers by forcing skilled non-EEA (European Economic Area) graduates to go home straight after their degrees.

The membership group, which represents the voice of manufacturing in the UK, today presented its findings to the Science and Technology Committee inquiry into international STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) students.

In April 2012 the Government abolished the Tier 1 post-study work route. This means students from outside the EEA are no longer able to stay in the UK for two years after they graduate to look for work.

The EEF claims this harms UK manufacturing firms' chances of recruiting valuable STEM graduates at a time of increasing skills shortages.

The EEF Higher Education Survey 2013 found a quarter of manufacturers have recruited a non-EEA graduate in the past three years. Almost half of the companies found the process of recruiting non-EEA students to be difficult, with 53% calling it very time-consuming.

Tim Thomas, head of employment and skills policy at EEF, claims that the manufacturing sector will be particularly hard hit by the new legislation. He said: “Manufacturers rely on the recruitment of non-EEA graduates to meet their skills needs, particularly those that hold degrees in STEM subjects. Government policy should not unreasonably restrict employers’ ability to access this talent pool.

"It should restore the Tier 1 post-study work route or introduce a route that allows international STEM graduates to stay in the UK after their studies. The Government must work harder to remove the hurdles employers face when recruiting international graduates.”