International students in the Granite City and across Scotland need more help to stay and work in the UK, an inquiry heard yesterday.
The Scottish Affairs Committee visited Aberdeen University following the launch of a study into post-study work schemes.
The post study work visa, which allowed non-EU students to stay in the UK and work for up to two years after graduation, was scrapped in 2012.
Students are now able to stay up to four months after the completion of their course before they must leave the UK.
And yesterday, the committee heard Scottish universities were losing out to the likes of Canada, Australia and America because of visas in place.
Academic and business chiefs were invited, as well as Europe and international development minister Humza Yousaf.
Aberdeen University’s principal and vice-chancellor Professor Sir Ian Diamond said higher education in Scotland was “world class.”
He said there were students from more than 120 nationalities at the institution, creating a “global environment” while also boosting the economy – and the profile of Scotland.
“Many of them will go back to their countries and become leaders of industry, leaders of their nation and they will have a fond memory of Scotland, Sir Ian added.
“The long term future of the north-east of Scotland is dependent not on the oil that is in the North Sea but on becoming a global service centre for the oil and gas industry.
“It will be a lot easier to do that if we have had many students over the next 30 to 40 years who are remembering the north-east of Scotland.”
The committee heard a post-study work visa would help graduates stay in the country and find work.
Mr Yousaf said there was a cross sector and cross party support for a post study work visa.
“There is no doubt in my mind Scotland is at a competitive disadvantage by not offering prospective international students a post-study work route,” he said.
He said a proposal was planned for March 2016, and welcomed further talks with UK Government.