International students in the UK who want to stay on and work have seen a minor improvement in their prospects in recent weeks, with lower 'new entrant' minimum salary, the introduction of the doctorate extension scheme and expansion of the Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur scheme. No-one could describe these measures as opening the floodgates, however, and it is likely that both perception and reality will be that it remains hard for international students to find work in the UK.
Some other countries continue to move towards more generous post-study work regimes. New websites have been launched for students wishing to stay on to work in the Netherlands and New Zealand. The European Commission is proposing new rules
to make it easier for international students and researchers to study
and work in the EU (except the UK and Denmark, which are not bound by
the directive in question, and with a further caveat that the granting of work permits remains a national responsibility). And the much-vaunted changes to post-study work arrangements in Australia have now come into effect.
But already critics in Australia are sounding a warning that political pressures may yet come for this policy to be reversed if it is perceived to disadvantage local workers. Controversial Australian academic Bob Birrell, not long ago published a report claiming international students were displacing young local workers. Similarly, in the US a recent article argues that the case for expanding the number of work visas for international students is flawed, relying on false assumptions about whether those students are really "the best and brightest" future innovators.
The debates are complex (and not just about immigration - what about the effects of emigration in depleting the UK skill base, as a recent Home Office report identified?), the positions are often polarised, and it remains to be seen what degree of 'policy stability' will apply in the face of competing pressures and views.
In the meantime, for anyone contemplating the logic of bringing UKBA back into the Home Office, I commend this Institute for Government statement (as tweeted by the BBC's Evan Davis).