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More Indian students heading towards UK

However, the huge increase in visa numbers has also given rise to fears of an immigration scam in the country.

india Updated: Jun 16, 2006 12:59 IST

India is among the top five countries where there has been a huge increase in the number of student visas issued by Britain during 2004-05, say official figures.

The number of visas across India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Turkey and Ghana soared from 17,723 in 2000 to just over 40,000 in 2004-05, Foreign Office minister Kim Howells.

In India, the figure in 2005 was 15,283, up from 4,790.

Howells stated that Nigeria showed the largest rise - from 1,516 in 2000 to 8,045 in 2004-05, while the numbers for Turkey fell during the five-year period from 7,208 to 4,234. Visas in Ghana remained relatively stable at a little over 1,700.

Carswell, a member of the Commons education committee, raised fears of "an immigration scam", claiming that the growth in student visas coincided with a decline in asylum-seeker numbers.

Responding to Carswell, Immigration Minister Liam Byrne admitted that Britain did not have accurate estimates of the number of students who returned to their country of origin after their courses were over.