Britain will once again discuss with India concerns over new visa rules that have turned many Indian students away from UK universities, the two countries decided at a meeting between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and David Cameron on Tuesday.
Cameron also pressed India to accept one-year masters’ degrees offered by UK universities that are currently not recognized here, in the strongest pitch yet for Indian students on behalf of his country’s varsities.
“This isn’t just about the people-to-people, or cultural relations between the two countries,” a senior British official told HT.
“This is about the hard economic recognition that international students, and Indian students in particular, are key to British higher education.”
The UK has traditionally been a favourite destination for Indian students keen to study abroad, though it has been overtaken by the US in recent years.
But strict new visa rules introduced by the UK since last summer have seen a 30% decrease in the number of Indian student visa applications over the past year.
Several Indian students also found themselves stranded in 2012 when UK immigration authorities barred London Metropolitan University from admitting non-European Union students, adverse publicity Britain did not need at the time.
Singh and Cameron also agreed to increase university-to-university collaborations.
The Indian labour ministry and its British counterparts also signed a pact to enhance cooperation in skills education.
UK minister for universities and science, David Willetts, is meeting junior education minister Jitin Prasada on Wednesday.
They are expected to discuss plans to collaborate on community colleges and leadership in schools.