Indian students are finally flocking to the United Kingdom, once again.
For nearly a decade, the number of Indian students going to the UK each year had been sliding. However, the trend reversed in 2017-’18, with 19,750 Indian students going to the UK. This is a significant bounce back from 16,550 students the previous year. The growth also coincided with the number of tier 4 or sponsored study visas granted to Indian nationals climbing up by 33%. Indian students received 18,735 tier 4 visas in the year ending September 2018, UK home office data showed.
At its peak, in 2010-’11, up to 39,090 Indian students had enrolled in colleges and universities in the UK.
A bulk of them went to institutions in England in 2017-’18.
Statistics show that over half of the Indian students were pursuing post-graduate degrees in the last academic year.
Business and engineering remained the top two subject areas for them. At Newcastle University, for instance, computer science, business, finance, engineering, and biosciences were the most popular courses pursued, Alex Metcalfe, director of international affairs at the institute, told college preparation site Careers360.
Seeing this growing interest, universities are making special efforts. The pool of Indian applicants to Queen’s University in Belfast has grown 40% annually, vice chancellor Ian Greer said. So they are exploring tie-ups with Indian universities, offering joint PhDs and more. Essex Business School is offering MBA scholarships to Indian students.
Expanding work opportunities are another big lure.
Making working easier
“The withdrawal of the post-study work visa was attributed to a decline in international student recruitment in the UK from key markets, notably India,” noted a report by the UK’s all-party parliamentary group for international students. “Between 2010-’11 and 2016-’17, the number of higher education students from India more than halved.”
The country is beginning to give a warmer welcome to Indians than before.
Post-Brexit, the UK wants to increase its international student intake levels from 460,000 at present to 600,000 each year by 2030. According to the new policy slated to go on the floors in 2021, students will be allowed to stay for up to six months after completing their graduate or post-graduate courses to find employment. For PhD students, the post-study work period will extend to a full year. Students from the European Union will no longer have an edge over international students from other regions.
Already, many vocal supporters have come to the fore.
In early June, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid called for post-work study restrictions on international students to be lifted. Universities Minister Jo Johnson, who had tabled an amendment to the government’s immigration bill in April calling for a two-year post-study work visa option for international students, celebrated the show of support.
In May this year, the UK also announced startup and innovator visas for entrepreneurs from abroad.
This article first appeared in Quartz.