IT is hard to find a consensus on much in politics these days, but there is at least one issue in Scotland which has widespread and cross-party support: the idea of allowing foreign students the chance to stay and work in Scotland for some time after they graduate.

Part of the reason for the strong support is that the idea has been shown to work before, as part of the Fresh Talent initiative introduced by the Scottish Government in 2005. There are also sound economic reasons for encouraging students to stay on - EU migration has helped reverse a decline in the Scottish population, and there are a number of sectors that have problems recruiting, especially health, energy and the biosciences.

The latest to make the case for a new visa allowing students to stay on in Scotland is the body that represents university principals, as well as organisations representing staff and students. They point out that Scotland attracts 31,000 students from outside the EU to study at its universities, which brings significant economic and cultural benefits. They also suggest that there is overwhelming public support for the idea that international students should remain in Scotland to work for a time after they graduate.

The problem is that the UK Government has abolished post-graduate work visas and seems to have set its mind against a special arrangement for Scotland as part of Brexit. Mostly, this is because of concerns felt largely in the south of England about immigration, but including students in a UK-wide anti-immigration position threatens Scotland’s economy and risks the position of Scottish students studying elsewhere in the EU.

However, there is still time for the UK Government to see sense on the matter. The Prime Minister appears to have put immigration at or near the top of her list of priorities for the Brexit negotiations, but that cannot be allowed to threaten Scotland’s need to attract and retain the best talent. As Alastair Sim, the director of Universities Scotland, has pointed out, Scotland has been able to set a different policy on immigration before. It must be allowed to do so again.