UK Tries ‘Old School Tie’ Approach to Migration Management

By David North on June 7, 2022

Assuming that there is a worldwide search for recent college graduate talent, as the open-borders people keep proclaiming, the United Kingdom has a new immigration policy — but it harks back to the ancient British tradition of the old school tie. It seeks to attract what might be called the advantaged talent of the world.

The government of Boris Johnson (Eton/Oxford) has created a worldwide list of 37 non-UK universities and declared that all of the current graduates of these elite institutions shall have an open invitation to be legal nonimmigrants in the UK for two years, even if they do not have a job. If they have a PhD from one of the 37, the offer is for three years.

The new scheme has one resemblance to and several differences from our H-1B and OPT programs. All of these programs seek highly educated talent from overseas.

On the other hand, in the UK program the screening is done by the 37 universities, not by UK employers, so there is none of the semi-indentured nature of the H-1B program. Further, unlike the U.S. program for the employers of recent alien grads of our universities, Optional Practical Training, there is no subsidy paid to employers (or if there is one it was not reported in the British coverage). A third difference is that the aliens involved have not gone to UK universities, while those in OPT have all attended U.S. ones. A fourth difference is that both OPT and H-1B stress high-tech credentials, while the new UK tradition does not (as Eton and Oxford do not).

The new system will be easy to administer as all coming from the select 37 are automatically eligible. It is also a blunt tool; the valedictorian of the Ivy League’s Dartmouth, which is not on the list, does not get admitted, but someone who just barely scrapes through at Harvard, which is on the list, gets a nice welcome.

The list of 37 universities, in addition to the 20 in this country (parts of which were once British territory) includes eight in other former UK colonies (Canada, three; Hong Kong and Singapore, two each; and Australia, one); and nine in the rest of the world (China, Japan, and Switzerland, two each; one each in France, Germany, and Sweden). That only three of the 37 are in the EU may reflect the British thinking that led to Brexit.

The general idea is that if you have managed to get a degree from one of the 37 you are potentially useful to the UK economy.

The American institutions that made the list are: California Institute of Technology; Columbia; Cornell; Duke; Harvard; Johns Hopkins; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; New York University; Northwestern; Princeton; Stanford; UC Berkeley; UCLA; UC San Diego; University of Chicago; University of Michigan (Ann Arbor);the Universities of Pennsylvania, Texas (Austin), and Washington; and Yale.

For some of the press coverage of this program see here and here.

Topics: Education