Nearly 16,000 Indian students came to the UK for higher education during 2005-06, according to the latest official figures of high fee-paying overseas students.
China was the largest source of overseas students, accounting for 52,000 students during 2005-06. India figures second on the list while the US is third with 14,000 students. In all, 157,000 overseas students came to study in the UK during the year.
Overseas students on an average spend 15,000 pounds ($31,000) a year in fees and living expenses. Together, they contribute 8.5 billion pounds a year as cash-strapped universities compete to invite them to study in their universities.
The figures show that overseas students amount to 25 per cent of the immigrants, compared with 20 per cent five years ago. The number of foreign students has doubled since 1998, when 77,000 arrived. Last year's total was an 18,000 increase on 2005.
Business and administration was the most popular subject among students from abroad, followed by engineering and technology.
University College London had the largest number of overseas students with nearly 27,000 on its books, but the London School of Economics topped the list of universities dominated by overseas undergraduates and postgraduates with 64 per cent coming from overseas.
A spokesman for Universities UK hailed the rising number of students and academics choosing to work and study in Britain. He said: "International students and academics also provide an immeasurable academic, cultural, and social benefit to the UK generally."
"It is therefore vital for our universities and the economy that the UK continues to offer a truly welcoming and supportive environment for international students and academics."