LONDON: A prominent UK think tank today branded the British government’s decision to exclude India from a new expanded list of countries able to access easier student visa norms an “act of self harm” as it could further push Indian students away from British universities.
The Social Market Foundation (SMF) said the UK Home Office’s decision to leave Indian students off a list of 25 countries to be offered a relaxed application process in the Tier 4 visa category for overseas students was a missed opportunity. “In the year that ended September 2010, Britain gave visas to 60,322 students from India. By September 2017, the figure had fallen to 14,081. During the same period, the number of Indians studying at American and Canadian universities has risen,” said SMF Director James Kirkup.
“The omission of Indian students risks pushing even more Indian students away from British universities,” he warned.
The Russell Group, an association which represents around 24 of the UK’s leading universities including Oxford and Cambridge, also backed a “reasonable” visa application process for Indian students.
Russell Group Senior Policy Analyst Hollie Chandler said: “There are nearly 6,000 Indian students studying at Russell Group universities. These individuals make an important contribution to our universities and our country and we want their interactions with the UK, and their time here, to be as positive as possible.”
“This is why we support a straightforward and reasonable visa application process for all students coming from overseas.”
The body welcomed the UK government’s measures aimed at simplifying the application process for international students in general.
“China is clearly an important market for Russell Group universities and we are pleased to see other countries on the list, such as Mexico and Thailand, where we expect to see growth in the future,” notes Russell Group Chief Executive Tim Bradshaw.