The number of Indian students enrolling at British universities has dropped by nearly 50% in two years, rattling ministers and university officials who have been trying hard to overcome negative perceptions abroad about recent changes to the student visa system.
Decline in number of Indian students that started in 2011-12 has continued in the last academic year (2012-13), leading to a record 25% reduction overall, according to figures released by Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
The overall reduction in the number of Indian students — graduate and postgraduate — is 25%, but the drop is sharper in the case of those enrolling on first-year degree courses, which has almost halved in two years, from 23,985 in 2010-11 to 12,280 in 2012-13.
The figures reveal that India remains the second highest source of international students at British higher education institutions, after China, but the numbers have continued on a downward spiral since the 2011-12 academic year.
The overall figures of Indian students (graduate, postgraduate) at British universities in last three academic years are: 39,090 in 2010-11, 29,900 in 2011-12 and 22,385 in 2012-13, which amounts to a record 25% reduction.
The drop is likely to exacerbate the frustration of vice-chancellors and other stakeholders who had warned of such a scenario for the last two years, amidst an increasingly competitive international market, and continuing efforts by the David Cameron government to cut immigration .
The consistent reduction in Indian students is mainly attributed to the scrapping of the post-study visa in 2012, which was popular among self-financing Indian students, who used it to recover some of the costs of their study by taking up jobs for two years after completing their course.
The steep fall in the value of rupee in the last six months is also expected to have contributed to lesser number of Indian students coming to the UK.