Muhammad Ibrahim Khalil is an Essex Data Science Masters graduate from Pakistan, who is now working as a Business Innovation Development Manager (KTP Associate), as part of the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between Essex and a local business. Ibrahim got the opportunity to apply for the role after receiving a graduate visa last year. The visa gives graduates two years to remain in the UK following graduation, to gain work experience without the need for sponsorship.
Ibrahim was attracted by the flexibility offered by the visa. “I liked the freedom of having two years where I would not be pressed for time or bound by a company’s sponsorship to determine my career path. This allowed me to carefully spend time exploring the opportunities available to me and making a cautious decision regarding my future rather than acting in haste.”
The visa was introduced by the British government in 2021, with the aim of allowing international students to remain in the UK for up to two years following the completion of their degree. Those completing a PhD can remain for three years. While holding the visa, graduates can look for work in their chosen field, take up any opportunities, change jobs and explore different professional horizons without the requirement of a sponsor.
Ibrahim found out about the visa before he even applied to study in the UK.
“It was actually a very important factor in me pursuing my studies in this country as opposed to other countries.”
After submitting his Masters thesis in 2022, Ibrahim began the process of applying for the visa.
“It is a fairly simple online process that asks you for details about yourself (like any visa application) and your course. One of the only prerequisites of proceeding to this stage is the reporting of completion of your degree to the Home Office by the University, which was done very timely - within two weeks of me getting my result if I remember correctly.”
Ibrahim started his role in mid-April this year.
“I found this job via the University’s LinkedIn post. KTPs are strategic partnerships between a knowledge base, such as the University of Essex and a business, which in my case is Bartech. The aim is to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and the spread of technical and business skills, bridging the gap between academia and industry. As an associate, KTP provides me with company-based training for enhancement of my business and specialist skills.
Bartech provides parts, services and support for diesel engines across multiple industries. I am responsible for embedding a culture of entrepreneurialism within the company, as well as marketing expertise, in order to maximise opportunities to diversify into new product design and enable the company to establish itself as an original equipment manufacturer.”
What Ibrahim likes most about his job is its strong academic integration.
“I get to make impactful business decisions based on relevant academic theories with the help of leading academics. Even in such a short amount of time, I have upskilled myself on fundamentals of sociology, entrepreneurship, business and psychology to adopt a holistic approach in establishing a framework for change at Bartech. This upskilling is complemented by my conversations with my supervisors both from the company and the University that help me focus my approach towards the end goal while providing me with the freedom to explore different techniques.”
Ibrahim has advice for others considering applying for the post study work visa.
“Ensure that your documentation is complete and any changes to your personal information or course information are communicated timely to the University who either provide this information to the Home Office themselves or guide you on how to do it.”
It is not possible to extend the graduate visa and it doesn’t lead to permanent residency in itself. However, it offers the opportunity to secure employment which may then in turn lead to sponsorship for a skilled worker visa. For Ibrahim, it is still early days.
“The best thing about taking the graduate visa route is the mental ease of not being pressed for time to make a decision regarding my future. It’s still too early to comment on what might happen, but I would definitely be open to having a future here.”
For further information about the types of visas available for graduates, take a look at our Working in the UK after your studies page.