David Cameron to review visa policy for Indian students

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Britain’s very own home affairs select committee now wants prime minister David Cameron to review its earlier decision to abolish the post study work visa which allowed international students to work for two years in UK after finishing their education here.

In an exclusive interview with the media, the chairman of the highly influential House of Commons committee Keith Vaz said, “Yes, we absolutely should review this policy. When looking at this situation, the home affairs select committee recommended a review of post study work visas to alleviate the clearly negative elements of the current policy”.

Vaz who was recently appointed the vice-chairman of the Labour Party added to TOI, “At present, we are seeing an unprecedented decline in the number of Indian students, which is a serious problem for our educational institutions, our economy and for the students themselves, who have been dissuaded from attending some of the most prestigious universities in the world”.

According to Vaz, “the best way to establish relations between countries is through young people from India coming to study in the UK”. He added, “I want them to come and study in London, Leicester and Liverpool”.

This comes a day after Scotland told TOI of its plans to introduce a special visa that will allow Indian students to work in Scotland at least for two years after they finish their education degree there. Post-study work visa was abolished by the UK government in April 2012. This had led to a 50 per cent dip in Indian students visiting British universities for higher education.

Scotland’s Europe and international development minister Humza Yousaf said Scotland plans to start the fresh talent working in Scotland scheme visa. This visa will be for Indian students to study in a Scottish university post which they can work only in Scotland.

In an earlier report, the home affairs select committee had said that any cap on student visas would be unnecessary and undesirable. It had said, “Any cap could seriously damage the UK’s higher education industry and international reputation. We fully support the government in seeking to eliminate bogus colleges and deterring bogus students from even attempting to enter the UK. International students make up 10 per cent of first degree students and over 40 per cent of postgraduate students at UK universities. It is important to note that international students do not take up places that could otherwise be taken up by UK students. They pay more than UK students for their courses and, in effect, subsidize the educational system in the UK”.

International students in UK universities come from over 190 countries. The UK is just below the US in terms of the total number and diversity of international students in its higher education institutions. In total, during the 2013/14 academic year, international students contributed £1,003 million in fee income to London universities.

A recent report said, “We estimate that the direct income from tuition fees contributed £1,317 million to UK GDP; £717 million directly, £183 million via the supply chain and £417 million via the spending of employees. In addition, the £1,003 million in tuition fee income from international students generated a total of 32,800 jobs. We estimate that, in total, friends and relatives that visit international students in London spent £62 million in 2013/14. This spending will contribute £65 million to UK GDP”.

In 2013-14 there were almost 67,500 international students attending London universities – making up 18% of the total student population in the capital, and 22% of the 3,10,000 international students across the UK. The decline in Indian students choosing to study at UK universities has been flagged up as a worrying trend as a new study said that international students coming here contribute nearly 2.3 billion pounds to the British economy every year.

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