The European Parliament said the move should ensure that Europe benefits from the skills of international students.
EU eases visa rules for international students
The European Parliament has passed a new visa directive that sets minimum standards for work rights and allows internal movement provisions for international students and researchers, a ruling it said would make studying in the EU more attractive.

The new rules merge existing directives and ensure that non-EU students and researchers may stay at least nine months after finishing their studies or research in order to look for a job or to set up a business. In a press release, the European Parliament said the move should ensure that Europe benefits from the skills of international students.


Non-EU students will have the right to work for a minimum of 15 hours per week in member states during their studies under the new rules.


The new directive also allows for greater movement within the EU for students and researchers. Students will no longer need to file a new application to move to another member state to undertake short exchange programmes, and will only have to notify the member state they move to. In addition, researchers will have the right to bring family members who will be eligible to work.


However, the UK, Ireland and Denmark have opted out of the directive, meaning the provisions will not apply to those countries.


"I am glad the EU recognises the value of attracting highly skilled people to come here and to entice them to stay by creating a harmonised European system applicable in all member states," said lead MEP Cecilia Wikström.


"This undoubtedly means that European universities will be able to strengthen their competitiveness in the global arena and become more attractive than ever to ambitious and highly educated people from other countries, thanks to considerably improved conditions in the EU," she added.


The European Students' Union (ESU) welcomed the directive as a step in the right direction, but noted that non-EU students will not have the same rights as domestic students and said that some proposals had been watered down in the directive, including suggestions of 18 months of post-study rights and 20 hours per week part-time work during studies.


"The final document represents half of what we would have loved to see, as the proposals from the European Parliament were way more advanced in rights for non-EU students, but still some of our postulates have been watered down," said Fernando Galan, Chairperson of the ESU. "We hope that this directive is only a first step in ensuring that Europe attracts more non-EU students to its campuses and encourages and increases internationalisation".


The directive enters into force the day after publication in the European Official Journal, and member states will have two years to transpose the provisions into their national laws.



By Matthew Knott

News Editor