Some non-EU Kingston University graduates have been forced to leave the UK because of new visa restrictions brought in by the government last year.
The restrictions were imposed in April 2011 as part of an attempt to reduce the number of immigrants coming into the country. They want to bring numbers down from 211,000 to 100,000 by the next general election in 2015.
It follows claims that people were moving to the UK, enrolling on dubious university and college courses, and then getting jobs and disappearing from the system.
Millie, 22, a film studies graduate from 2012, recently had to leave the UK and go back to her home country Serbia as the new post-graduation work restrictions for international students stopped her from getting a job in the UK.
“I left my country when I was 18 years old,” she said.
“I lost touch with the people I used to know, and I’ve made a new life in England. Now I have been forced to leave everything that I’ve built over the three years I’ve been here.”
The new immigration requirements include more difficult English language-speaking tests, more restrictions on who can stay and work after graduation and tougher sponsorship constraints.
However, Boris Johnson has called for the tougher international student visa restrictions to be eased.
According to the London Mayor, the new restrictions are sending out the “wrong signal” and could “cause unnecessary harm and prejudice against the UK”.
He also argues that they could be damaging for the UK’s economy, as international students bring around £2.5bn per year into the country.
The UK has seen a drop of 30 per cent in international applications between June 2011 and June 2012.
On top of this, 400 students have had to leave the UK and go back to their home countries.
The tougher postgraduate visa restrictions mean that non-EU students have to earn more than £20,000 to be allowed to stay in the country.
Millie, who failed to meet the criteria, said: “I feel very frustrated because I’ve brought at least £15,000 to the UK, and now I’m not even allowed to start working.”
Dominic Scott, Chief Executive at the UK Council for International Student Affairs, argued that there were some positive aspects with the post-graduate visa restrictions, but was overall against them.
Despite the new restrictions Kingston University has been successful in attracting international students.