A total of 333 Chinese students in Scotland have successfully applied for a talent-seeking scheme to remain and work in the country for two years after graduation without requiring a work permit.
Latest figures show that 1,176 international students have taken advantage of the 'Fresh Talent Working in Scotland' scheme. It was launched last June by the Scottish Executive and Home Office. The scheme and figures were outlined by the Scottish Executive in Beijing on Saturday.
To date no applicants for the initiative have failed.
The scheme, which enables non-EU students who graduated with a Higher National Diploma from a Scottish college to stay for two years without work permits, aims to attract talented youngsters to live and work in Scotland, the only country within the UK whose population is projected to decline.
Mr Steven Szymoszowskyj, Scottish Executive Fresh Talent Policy development officer, said the scheme would be promoted this year and especially to students from China. Mr Szymoszowskyj was in Beijing at the weekend attending the 11th China International Education Exhibition Tour.
He said the scheme would help solve one of the biggest difficulties encountered by international students who may wish to stay in Scotland to find legal employment within a very limited period of time.
Applicants may either leave the country at the end of the period or switch to one of the migration schemes. However, figures show that only 1,176 of an estimated 6,000 eligible students have applied so far. And the number of Chinese applicants was not significant compared to the total population of Chinese graduates in Scotland.
"Considering the scheme is in its first year we're satisfied with the response and are optimistic the number of applicants will increase," said Mr Szymoszowskyj .
Currently around 4,000 Chinese students are in Scottish colleges and the number continues to rise, say the Scottish Executive. Applicants are required to prove only that they are non-EU students and graduates from Scottish colleges. But the scheme doesn't guarantee work so applicants will compete against other students, including those from Scotland and other parts of the UK.
Mr Szymoszowskyi said they will establish close contacts with successful applicants but as yet they're not clear how many and in which specific fields Chinese graduates have been employed.
A two-day education exhibition, which ended yesterday in Beijing, attracted about 350 colleges from 27 countries. Xi'an, provincial capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, will be its next stop.
(China Daily February 20, 2006)