Students and education experts have welcomed new plans to provide two-year, post-study residency visas to outstanding students who have studied in the UAE to allow them more time to find a job.
The plans were announced late on Wednesday as part of a package of sweeping reforms to visa and labour insurance legislation. The aim is to retain more talented students, however it was not clear how a students talent would be defined.
Sanjeev Verma, chief executive of Dubai education consultancy Intelligent Partners, said the new visas will help the country develop.
“[The visas] will attract more students. The decision will have external benefits and will benefit the economy in more ways than one. It will increase the depth of industry here – when you set up an industry, you need qualified staff,” he said.
“There will be multiplier effects. If you look at any student who goes overseas, he or she is looking for a career. If there is no possibility of a career, the appeal of that place diminishes considerably.”
Under the present system, students have an average of six months to apply for jobs after graduation, depending on when their visa is renewed.
Sachin Nair, 22, an Indian finance graduate from American University of Sharjah looking for a job in the finance sector, said six months was not enough time to secure employment in the current market.
Getting a two-year visa would give students flexibility and reduce stress, he said.
“It helps you get to a place where you make an informed decision. You don’t have to take up a job as soon as possible just to stay in the country.”
Macedonian student Anastasija Stojchevska secured a job as an analytics specialist in the aviation industry through a career fair.
“I consider myself lucky that my job offer came before graduation. After graduation, summer is slow in the UAE and it’s not the best time to apply for jobs,” she said.
The student, who has recently completed her bachelor’s degree in economics, had many questions about the new visas and how they will work.
“If a student doesn’t find employment in two years, do they have to go home? What and who determines that?’
The new law will ease the pressure on final year students, believes Sara Omar, 20, an Egyptian advertising student at the American University of Sharjah.
“I would also have to look for housing to stay in after dorms close. Now I have more time to do both without having to go through this hassle during my studies.”
The reform will give international graduates a chance to seek jobs that suit their interests, said AUS marketing student, Nada Younis.
“There are many opportunities in the UAE that graduates tend to miss out on because they don’t have the chance to stay and look for a job," said Ms Younis, 20.
"Now I am not forced to take the first job I am offered. I can take my time looking.”