23 Jan 2018 17:14 IST

Will tweaked visa rules make UK attractive to students again?

Changed immigration rules may see a rise in the number of Indian students

After easing the immigration rules from January 11, it is expected that the UK will see an increase in the number of Indian students heading there for higher education. Some, however, say that the country needs to tweak policy further to actually see a rise in number of students.

Given the stringent work visa regulations, the number of Indian students applying to British universities had been dropping for the last few years. The British Council had pegged the fall at 10 per cent. Until last year, international students had to leave the country after completing their course and then apply for a work visa.

No six-month gap

“Students had to wait out six months between course completion and getting the graduate certificates after submitting their dissertation. Because of this, many students had to return home. However, with the present change of policy, a student can work on his or her dissertation; while simultaneously taking up a job in the UK. With the change in immigration rules, the UK is now better poised to compete in the international student market and regain its status as a favoured study-abroad destination,” said Vibha Kagzi, CEO and Founder ReachIvy.com, a career advisory firm.

The UK offers master’s programmes for a year, unlike other countries, where the course lasts two years. In the UK, students get the tier 2 visa but, to get the work visa (tier 4), they need to complete a master’s degree.

Work visa

“The master’s programme consists of a nine-month Post-Graduate Diploma (PGD) and three months dissertation. Earlier, the students had to complete their master’s degree before switching to a tier 4 visa but now, even after completing the PGD, they will be eligible for the latter visa,” said Gurinder Bhatti, Chairman and MD, ESS Global, a study abroad consultant.

On the impact the policy change will have on those seeking to go to the UK for higher education, Bhatti said: “It’s not going to make any major difference, they need to implement the same policy for undergraduate students too.”

It is estimated that the number of inbound students from India in the UK was 18,015 in 2017; this was around 3.6 per cent of the total inbound students.

In recent years, the UK has seen a downtrend in the number of international students from India, losing out to Canada and Australia, which have become new favourite study destinations.

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