International graduates leave the UK because it is hard to obtain a visa.  Photo: Andree Lüdtke via Flickr
International graduates leave the UK because it is hard to obtain a visa.
Photo: Andree Lüdtke via Flickr

The National Union of Students (NUS)  is today calling for more to be done to encourage talented international graduate entrepreneurs to stay in the UK as it releases a report which shows that they are put off starting their businesses up in this country.


The report, which is made in partnership with The Entrepenours Network, surveyed 1600 graduate international students. Forty two percent of respondents said that they would like to start up a business once they graduate but less than a quarter want to start one up in the UK.

Almost one third thought the processes in place for international students’ to work once they’ve finished studying  in the UK was worse than other countries and another third said that they would not recommend the UK as a place to study to friends and family in their home country.


Only 2 per of those respondents who said that they intend to start a business following graduation actually applied for the UK Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa, with almost two thirds claiming they didn’t consider applying for it.


The number of international students at UK universities has fallen for the first time in three decades.

The NUS says anecdotal evidence shows that international students are increasingly looking for meaningful temporary work experience while in their host countries, but entrepreneurs often encounter barriers because of the current ban on Tier 4 visa holders engaging in anything considered self-employment.

Shreya Paudel NUS international students’ officer, said:
“It’s once again saddening to see more research which shows that many international students feel unwelcome in the UK as a result of the government’s hostile and overzealous policies.


“We should be celebrating international graduates with entrepreneurial spirit who want to contribute to this country. Instead we are seeing many put off from starting businesses here because of impossible visa restrictions that place them in catch-22 situations. This needs to end now.


“It’s absolutely ludicrous to shut out a whole group of people who want to contribute to this country’s economy just to meet a political agenda.


“This is why, in the run up to the general election, I want to see the Government  provide all non-EU international students with the right to work, free from restriction, for 12 months after study.”


Philip Salter, Director of The Entrepreneurs Network, commented:

“This report shows that our visa system isn’t supporting the entrepreneurial ambitions of international graduates.

“In its current form, the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa isn’t fit for purpose. We are training some of the world’s best and brightest young people at our world-class universities only to push them to set up their businesses overseas.”