On 1 May 2007 a new immigration category was created, called the International Graduates Scheme. This supersedes and replaces the previous Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme, affectionately known as SEGS. The change was effected by Statement of Changes Cm 7075 and has already been incorporated into the online edition of the Immigration Rules at rules 135O to 135T.
The main change is that it is now open to more or less all foreign national graduates of UK universities who have since 1 May 2007 completed a UK degree, Master’s degree, PhD or a postgraduate certificate or postgraduate diploma.
The scheme allows these graduates to work in the UK for up to 12 months and also, usefully, to switch into work permit employment, the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme and other specified employment schemes if they can qualify for them within those 12 months – or their replacements under the points based scheme when it is implemented, presumably.
It would be very difficult for the newly graduated foreign student to possess the skills and qualifications necessary for the various employment schemes. The International Graduates Scheme affords them an opportunity to find a good job and start acquiring specialist skills, and therefore a fighting chance of succeeding in getting long term employment and, ultimately, residence in the UK. As such, it could be used as a significant selling point by UK universities and the British Council in the fierce international competition to attract lucrative foreign students and it also fits well with the Government’s high skilled migration agenda.