Indian student numbers at UK universities fall sharply: Report
The number of Indian students going to UK universities has seen a sharp fall, revealed a new report. This is because of the increasing worldwide competition to attract international students, said the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report. The MAC was tasked by the UK Home Office to study the impact of international students in the country and recommend any changes to its visa regime.
Report explains reasons behind the fall in number
While the number of students from China remains the same, the number of students from India fell from a peak of 24,000 in 2010-11 to fewer than 10,000 in 2016-17, the report notes. "This is connected to the change in the post-study work offer. There has also been adverse coverage of the UK as a place to study in the Indian press," it adds.
Report recommends easier transition from student to work visas
The report recommended an overall easier transition from student to work visas for talented applicants, including extending the limited post-study leave period from the current 3-6 months for Masters students. But it dismissed the need for an exclusive post-study visa route.
Universities in UK have been demanding a post-study visa route
University chiefs have been campaigning for a dedicated post-study visa route, most recently with representative body, Universities UK, proposing a new 'Global Graduate Talent Visa' to allow qualified international students to work in the UK for two years after graduation. Prof Janet Beer, President of Universities UK, said the organization, which represents the country's 136 leading universities, was disappointed with the report's recommendations.
Report talks about international students in govt's annual migration targets
In another controversial move, the MAC report also concluded there was no case for international students to be removed from the government's annual migration targets. "If there is a problem with students in the target, it is with the target itself rather than the inclusion of students in the target," said Professor Alan Manning, MAC Chairman, in his foreword to the report.
Campaigners explain why overseas students don't feel welcome in UK
Campaigners warn that while the UK continues to count international students as long-term migrants in its net migration target, there is continued pressure to reduce their numbers and adds to the perception that overseas students are not really welcome in the UK.
Indian alumni Union chairwoman complains about the report's recommendations
"The good thing it (MAC) does do is to explicitly call out that the government's net migration target is a political target, and therefore is a problem in itself," said Sanam Arora, Chair of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK. "But then it shoots itself in the foot by recommending that students stay within this target," she added.
UK education demand shouldn't be based on work rights: Report
A British Chambers of Commerce spokesperson added, "Business communities around the UK will be bitterly disappointed not to see support for the removal of overseas students from the immigration statistics." The MAC report recognizes that there will be a cross-sector disappointment by its recommendation on post-study work visas, but says that demand for UK education should not be based on work rights.