THE UK Government should act following a "stark warning" from a top university that its immigration policies are harming the Scottish economy, the SNP international development minister has said.

Humza Yousaf said evidence submitted to a Holyrood committee by the University of Edinburgh illustrated the need to reintroduce an automatic right to work for a limited period for graduates from non-EU countries.

The university, which is ranked among the top 25 in the world, warned that the repeal of a post study work visa in 2012 was leading to a "brain drain" in Scotland and was damaging education, business and society.

It comes as two beneficiaries of a previous scheme, who established successful careers in Scotland after being allowed to remain in the country for two years after completing their studies, prepare to give evidence at the Scottish Parliament today.

Mr Yousaf said: "The UK Government would do well to listen to Edinburgh University’s stark warning. It’s no surprise that closing off the post study work visa route has led to Scottish Universities experiencing a brain drain, as some of our most talented graduates are no longer able to remain in Scotland.

"Scotland has different immigration needs from the rest of the UK and a return of the post study route would be in the best interests of Scotland, as well as meeting the recommendations of the Smith Commission.

"That’s why representatives from all political parties represented in Holyrood, as well as from business, the trade union sector and from academia, have called for a return of a post study work visa, and have expressed their surprise and dismay at suggestions that this route has been ruled out with no substantive consultation."

David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, initially appeared to dismiss suggestions that a Scottish visa scheme could be reintroduced. However, he later insisted that the move had not been ruled out and that firm proposals will be considered.

Bruce Crawford, Convener of the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee which will today hear evidence over the issue, said: "All parties at Holyrood have expressed concern over the UK Government’s indication that there are no plans to reintroduce post-study work visas.

"The Secretary of State for Scotland indicated that he was prepared to listen and to make representations to the Prime Minister if a case can be made for the reintroduction of visas in Scotland. We’ve also asked the Home Secretary, Teresa May, for her definitive position on whether the UK Government is prepared to consider reintroduction of visas north of the Border."

The Home Office has said the previous system was open to abuse and that its current initiatives, which allows graduates to stay if they can get a graduate-level job paying a certain amount, are proving a success.