International Student Employability Group

The international student employability group (ISEG) was set up in 2020 in response to the research findings from the report Supporting International Graduate Employability Making Good on the Promise which recommended  ‘establishing a cross-department working group or similar with responsibility for international student/graduate employability to support the delivery of the strategic approach’.

The members of the group now include: 

  • UKCISA (Chair)
  • AGCAS Internationalisation Task Group
  • Association of Colleges
  • British Council
  • British Universities Liaison Association (BUILA)
  • Institute of Student Employers
  • Independent HE
  • UUKi
  • Universities Scotland
  • Jisc / Prospects
  • UKCISA student ambassadors

There have been seven meetings to date.

Broadly, the role of ISEG is to:

  • undertake research to understand international students’ employability needs
  • engage with UK governments to influence policy
  • engage with other sector bodies to improve the evidence base on graduate employability
  • work with employers to highlight the benefits of recruiting international students and graduates
  • support education institutions to provide employability support for international students

Three subgroups have formed to focus on areas of interest:

  • The Graduate Route
  • Employer Engagement
  • Improving data

UKCISA has convened the group and is now Chair and we have taken a leading role in working on the implementation of the Graduate Route.

UKCISA and ISEG activity

Sept 2020

UKCISA convened a roundtable event with sector bodies.  This was followed up with the submission of a position paper to inform the implementation of the Graduate route to the Home office. This was not made public but the paper was endorsed by AoC, GuildHE, MillionPlus, IndependentHE, UUki, BUILA and UniversityAlliance. The paper outlined sector recommendations on eligibility (type of qualification, mode of study, education provider, flexibility during Covid) and reporting requirements and made several recommendations which were accepted by the Home office. Key successes were:
Allowing eligibility for students on articulation agreements for degree programmes who complete their degree in the UK to be eligible

Jan 2021

UKCISA convened a roundtable event with members of ISEG subgroup on the Graduate Route to discuss self-employment. The group submitted recommendations to the Home Office outlining the business case for unrestricted self-employment. As a result, self-employment was permitted within the Graduate Route rules when it was introduced in July 2021.

Feb-March 2021

UKCISA convened two technical meetings with the sector and UKVI to discuss reporting eligibility requirements and to agree practical solutions for the implementation of the route in July.

UKCISA worked with BUILA and Universities UK to lobby the Home Office to amend the 6 April arrival date for students who had been studying remotely due to Covid. This date was subsequently revised and students were granted more time to enter the UK in order to qualify for the route.

July 2021

The Graduate Route was launched during the UKCISA annual conference.  Full details of the route are regularly updated on the working after study pages of the UKCISA website

August 2021+

ISEG has been in communication with the Higher Education Statistics Agency regarding changes to gathering Graduate Outcomes Data.

October 2021

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) published a report Paying More For Less? Careers and Employability Support for  International Students at UK Universities . This was discussed and at a public webinar recorded on 14 October 2021.

February 2022

Following HESA's decision to stop calling international students to collect Non-EU Graduate Outcomes data, this was the main discussion point at the meeting. Alongside this was discussions on the implementation of the Graduate Route and institutional barriers, discussions on creating a survey to gather more data and case studies on the route (AGCAS took responsibility for this and the survey is open until the end of April here), and the British Council's plans for an alumni network.