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Photograph: Photo by Francisco Osorio, used under CC BY

The European Union will soon make it easier and more appealing for students and researchers to enter the bloc, in a bid to attract more skilled foreigners.

Europe has been struggling with a migration crisis that brought more than 1 million people to its shores last year, but many of them were fleeing conflicts.

The new rules, approved by the European Parliament on Wednesday, apply to people from non-EU countries who come to the bloc to study or do research, as well as interns, volunteers, school pupils and au pairs.

"I am glad that the EU recognizes the value of attracting highly skilled people to come here and to entice them to stay," said EU lawmaker Cecilia Wikstrom, who shepherded the file through parliament.

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

Under the new rules, which member states will have two years to implement, foreigners can stay in the EU for at least nine months after finishing their studies or research to look for a job or set up a business.

They will also be allowed to move more easily within the 28-country bloc, while researchers will be allowed to bring their family members and students will get the right to work at least 15 hours per week.

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