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Anuj killing: UK varsities seek to limit damage

world Updated: Jan 05, 2012 21:16 IST
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British universities on Thursday moved to limit the adverse impact of Anuj Bidve's gruesome killing by reassuring Indian students about their safety and security here, amid reports of drop in applications from India at UK institutions.

The killing of 23-year-old Bidve in Salford on December 26 has caused much concern among Indian parents whose wards are studying here or are considering applying to courses from the next academic year starting September-October 2012.

There are already reports of a 20 per cent drop in applications from India at some UK universities.

Like Bidve, a large percentage of Indian students studying in the UK are postgraduate students. Official estimates put the contribution of Indian and other international students at 5 billion pounds to the UK economy annually.

Referring to the Bidve killing, Professor Eric Thomas, president of Universities UK, told PTI: "We at Universities UK would want to reassure current and future Indian students and their parents that this kind of incident is thankfully exceptionally rare."

He said compared to other countries, the UK remains a safe and tolerant country with low levels of violence and street crime.

Prof Thomas recalled that a recent survey by the British Council showed that only a very small proportion of students had ever experienced any kind of crime here.

The drop in applications is being attributed to changes to the student visa system, mainly the scrapping of the 'Post-Study Work Visa' from April 2012, which is popular with self-financing Indian students who seek to recover some of the expenses of their course by working here for two years after the course is completed.

Indian students are the second largest international group (after China) in UK universities, numbering 38,500 in the year 2009-10, according to figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

Lancaster University, where Bidve was enrolled, has moved quickly to extend support to his family and friends, which has been welcomed by India's Consul in Birmingham, R R Swain.

In an environment of deep funding cuts, the income generated by universities from Indian and other international students is considered vital to ensure the sustainability of many university departments.

So far, international students paid at least three times more tuition fees than those applicable to British/EU students.

However, this will change from September-October 2012 when British/EU students will also see their fees rise substantially.