Today I had the opportunity to attend a presentation on Tier 4 Visa National Students & Work Placements.
The University’s Tier 4 Licence enables the recruitment of International Students. Tier 4 students are allowed to undertake work placements as an assessed part of their course. However, the University’s Tier 4 licence comes also involves reporting back international students’ work placements to the UKBA.
Whilst emphasis is being laid on work experience, work placement has obviously become an important, interesting and natural path for career-oriented students. However, international students often struggle to find a work placement and can come across perceptions of visa issues from prospective placement providers.
Most international students often join a course without inclusive placement, which means that the students are on a 3 yr 4 months visa. Once in Reading, the focus on work based learning and the Career modules undertaken at Year 1 and Year 2 create interest to take up placement. However, it can be a dreadful process to extend a student visa, thus putting off many international students from undertaking a work placement.
It is argued that in such cases, international students should look up for shorter placements opportunities, thus relinquishing the benefits of a one year work placement. A more appropriate choice would be to tackle the problem at root level, which is at recruitment. Directors of Internationalisation and Directors of Enterprise at School level should work together to communicate to potential international students the benefits of work placement and to encourage these students to register on a 4 year course (inclusive of placement), instead of a normal 3 year course. Sufficient reassurance should be given to both students and parents when visiting schools/universities abroad about the high level of support provided by the university before, during and after students’ work placement.
However, with the changing UKBA strategies and demands, it is important for Schools to revisit their own strategies with regards to how to encourage work placements for International students and employability.