Indian students continue to give UK the miss

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Sep 26, 2014 18:00 IST

The drop in the number of Indian students coming to the UK for higher education witnessed for the last two years shows a continuing decline, according to a new report that expresses ‘worry’ about the falling demand from India.

Universities UK – the umbrella organisation representing UK universities – says in its report on latest trends in international student recruitment that along with the fall in Indians coming to the UK, there has been a rise in Indian students going to the US and Australia.

The report also reveals that the UK’s competitors in the student recruitment market – Australia, the US and Canada – have all seen significant increases in recent years, at a time when numbers coming to the UK have been in decline.

New student visa restrictions and the closure of the post-study work visa as part of David Cameron government's efforts to curb net migration since 2010 have created a negative perception in India and south Asia.

Official figures have shown that the UK higher education sector as a whole experienced two consecutive years of falling overseas entrants, in both 2011–12 and 2012–13.

The number of Indian students commencing courses in the UK almost halved in two years, and the number of international entrants to STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fell by 10%, with postgraduate taught courses being particularly affected.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive, Universities UK, said: “It is good to see early signs of potential growth…However, a number of worrying signs remain – not least a drop in those taking STEM courses and the continued decline in Indian students, following an incredible 49% drop between 2010 and 2012”.

Universities UK is scheduled to make the case for removing international students from overall immigration figures at the Conservative party conference on 29 September. The party had promised to bring immigration substantially down before the 2010 election, and after coming to power, had introduced new restrictions on student visas.

The Conservative Party is the only major party that has not yet committed to removing international students from the net migration target after the 2015 election.

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