Plunging Indian Student Applications to UK Amid Visa Clampdown

The number of Indian students applying for higher education in the UK has plummeted, with a significant 16% drop in applicants by the end of 2023. The decline follows a strict visa policy, restricting family dependents and adversely impacting universities dependent on international student fees.

PTI | London | Updated: 23-05-2024 18:27 IST | Created: 23-05-2024 18:27 IST
Plunging Indian Student Applications to UK Amid Visa Clampdown
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Indian students choosing the UK as their higher education destination have started registering a fall, with over 21,000 fewer Master's degree applicants than the previous year being registered in official statistics released in London on Thursday.

According to UK Home Office data based on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, there was a 16 per cent drop in Indian student applicants over the year ending December 2023 in an overall 10 per cent fall in net migration compared to 2022.

While the figures will come as a welcome sign for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak who has made curbing migration one of his key planks for a general election now set for July 4, the student visa figures will worry universities who rely on overseas student fees.

"There were 116,455 sponsored study visa grants to main applicants that are Indian nationals in the year ending March 2024, (26 per cent of the total), 21,717 fewer than the previous year," the Home Office analysis reads.

"The majority (94,149, or 81 per cent) of Indian students come to the UK to study at Master's level, and the recent decrease in Indian students was driven by 21,800 fewer Indian nationals coming to study at Master's level," it notes.

The fall in numbers follows a visa clampdown on students being able to bring their family dependents, spouses or children, from earlier this year. It comes at a time when university vice-chancellors and diaspora groups are lobbying the government not to safeguard the country's post-study work visa offer under the Graduate Route scheme.

In the year to March 2024, Indian nationals represented the largest group of students granted visas on this route (64,372), representing almost half (46 per cent) of the grants.

This reaffirms previous statistics around this scheme, which offers a chance to gain work experience at the end of a degree and is seen as crucial to Indians choosing their higher education destination.

Thursday's data also revealed data under the new India Young Professionals Scheme, which has a quota of 3,000 visas for young people annually and saw 2,105 grants to Indian nationals up to March this year.

According to the ONS, almost half of those immigrating to the UK for work-related reasons came from India or Nigeria, most commonly in the Health and Social Care sector, and Indians continued to top the tally of Skilled Worker visa grants.

The top five nationalities outside the European Union (EU) for long-term immigration flows into the UK in the year ending December 2023 were Indian (250,000), Nigerian (141,000), Chinese (90,000), Pakistani (83,000) and Zimbabwean (36,000). Overall, the ONS data estimates about 1.22 million people came to the UK in 2023 and around 532,000 have left.

The ONS said: "Long-term net migration (the number of people immigrating minus the number emigrating) was provisionally estimated to be 685,000 in the year ending (YE) December 2023, compared with our updated estimate of 764,000 for the YE December 2022; while it is too early to say if this is the start of a new downward trend, emigration increased in 2023, while new Home Office data show visa applications have fallen in recent months."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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