Tougher UK visa rules hit Indian students

There were less than 30,000 Indian students enrolled in 2011-12 compared to around 40,000 last year

New Delhi: Britain’s stringent visa policies for non-EU students have led to a 24 percent decline in the number of Indian students in higher education last year.

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the number of Chinese students at British higher education institutes continued to grow during the academic year. There were less than 30,000 Indian students enrolled in 2011-12 compared to around 40,000 last year.

New restrictions on student visas have been much in the news since the Cameron government came to power, particularly its closure of the post-study work visa, which was popular among Indian students who used it to recover some of the cost of studying in Britain.

The government, keen to reduce immigration from non-EU countries, clamped down on universities such as the London Metropolitan University, whose license to recruit Indian and other non-EU students got cancelled recently.

Jo Beall, British Council Director of Education and Society, said the Indian and Pakistani falls were very alarming.

“Not only are these countries with large numbers of ambitious students aspiring to study overseas, but also those with which we have historically been actively engaged in the areas of higher education and research,” she added.

Amendments to the post-study work visa also prohibit most foreign students to stay and work for two years in the country after completing their studies. Now, the students can stay in the UK for three years after completing their studies only if they get a graduate level job with salary of BP 20,000 or more.

Besides this, the country’s government is also taking measures to prevent any bogus applicants from studying in the country.

Britain has an excellent reputation around the world for its high quality education system, therefore, the government needs to ensure that the HEIs get all the support they need to attract international students who make a huge academic, cultural and economic contribution to the country, said Beall.

Figures released by the HESA also show a 13.4 percent in the number of students from Pakistan coming to the UK to study year-on-year.

The total number of non-EU students coming to the UK for pursuing post graduation has fallen for the first time in 16 years. Overall, the number of non-EU students studying at British higher education institutions rose by 1.5 per cent in 2011-12, according to the agency.

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