UK visas to Indian students double, but Covid-19 crisis looms

Universities across the UK have been bracing for a fall in high fee-paying international students due to the pandemic.
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Updated on Aug 27, 2020 05:05 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, London | By

The number of UK student visas granted to Indians in the year ending June 2020 doubled compared to the previous year, reflecting the interest in the two-year post-study work visa from 2021, new figures released Thursday showed. But uncertainty continues over arrivals due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the academic year is set to begin in September, universities across the UK have been bracing for a fall in high fee-paying international students due to concerns over the pandemic. There have been mixed reports on how many Indian students will actually turn up when the academic year begins.

Those who begin the academic year in September 2020 and complete courses in 2021 onwards will be eligible for the popular post-study work visa, which has been revived by the Boris Johnson government as part its bid to attract global talent as the UK completes Brexit on December 31.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the overall number of students visas granted up to June 2020 was 255,776, reflecting 1 percent rise from the previous year. Chinese nationals accounted for a third (34 percent), which was less by 19 percent compared to the previous year.

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“Indian nationals accounted for a further 19 percent, more than doubling in the latest year (now at 48,297 grants) and continuing the increase since 2016”, the ONS said. However, the number of work visas for Indian professionals fell in the year up to June 2020.

Indian nationals accounted for nearly half (48 percent) of skilled work visas granted, but their number of grants decreased by a quarter (25 percent) compared to the previous year when more than half of all work visas issued went to Indians.

Jay Lindop, director of the Centre for International Migration, ONS, said, “After a period of stability, we were seeing migration levels begin to increase in the past 12 months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic”.

“This was being driven by increases in non-EU student arrivals, mainly from China and India. The International Passenger Survey data were collected up to March 2020 and do not take into account the significant impact the pandemic has had on international migration since then.”


    Prasun Sonwalkar was Editor (UK & Europe), Hindustan Times. During more than three decades, he held senior positions on the Desk, besides reporting from India’s north-east and other states, including a decade covering politics from New Delhi. He has been reporting from UK and Europe since 1999.

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