White Paper Highlights Potential Damaging Implications of Government Policy Shift on Graduate Visa Route

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The Association for Tourism in Higher Education (ATHE), the Council for Hospitality Management (CHME), and the Association for Events Management Education (AEME) have come together to address the concerning implications of potential changes to government policy regarding the graduate visa route. This joint effort aims to shed light on the critical role that international students and graduates play in the education of industry leaders worldwide, as well as the strategic development of industries through postgraduate education and research.

In response to a statement made in Parliament on December 4, 2023, the government has tasked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) with conducting a rapid review of the Graduate route. This review, expected to report its findings today, has sparked concerns within THE industries about the potential repercussions on the economy, recruitment, and the already-existing skills shortage. Currently 85% of students studying THE postgraduate programmes are international students.

Despite facing significant challenges in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, THE industries remain vital contributors to the UK economy. In 2022 alone, the travel and tourism industry contributed £237.1 billion to the UK’s Gross Domestic Product, with the events industry estimated at £70 billion, and the hospitality industry at over £93 billion in direct Gross Value Added (GVA). Moreover, these industries collectively provide millions of jobs, making them essential pillars of the UK workforce.

However, the recovery of THE industries is hindered by a sustained recruitment crisis, compounded by Brexit and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The resulting staff and skills shortages are further exacerbated by declining trends in undergraduate applications and acceptances over the past five years, as well as government plans to defund Level 3 Travel and Tourism qualifications in 2025.

The jointly commissioned White Paper, titled “The Future of Tourism, Hospitality, and Events (THE) Management Education in the United Kingdom (UK),” underscores the urgent need for a comprehensive strategy to address the challenges facing THE Management education at both Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) levels. This strategy must be informed by current developments in the sector and supported by government policies that prioritise and promote THE subjects.

The White Paper not only highlights the value of international students and graduates in THE subjects but also emphasises the critical role that postgraduate education and research play in the strategic development of THE industries. By educating industry leaders and advancing knowledge through research, THE Management education contributes significantly to the long-term success and sustainability of these vital sectors nationally and internationally.

The associations urge policymakers to consider the far-reaching implications of any changes to the graduate visa route and to work collaboratively with stakeholders to ensure a thriving future for THE Management education in the UK.


Please click here for a copy of the White Paper.

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