Amidst distress over stricter immigration laws and the impact of Brexit, UK is losing its stand as one of the most preferred destinations in the world for higher education.
According to universities and consultants in the UK, who work with foreign students, there has been a steep decline in the count of course applicants. Students have been choosing other nations for graduation. Student numbers to the UK have fallen from 55000 (from 2-3 years ago) to 10,000 this year. There was a noticeable decline of almost 35% in the number of Indian students last year, as reported by few universities.
Two main factors could be the reason for this decline.
First - UK has become strict and rigid about bringing down its net migration to below 1lakh.
Second - UK’s resolve on leaving the European Union.
Right from 2012, UK's visa policies directed students to find a job related to their course discipline and earn a min salary of £20,000 as soon as they graduated, and had only 4 months to do so!
Mr. Naveen Chopra, co-founder of a well-known overseas education consultancy ‘The Chopras’, expressed that “the British education sector is suffering because of this decision.”
"Those with limited means are no longer applying because of strict visa policies. Once a course is over, students want to work in the UK to be able to pay off education loans and that isn't happening now. Brexit is also a factor in this decline."
The numbers of students going to the UK with the help of his consultancy declined from 4,000 students (2 years ago) to around 1,700 students this year.
According to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement and Internationalization, Richard Davies, "It is hard to attribute this decline to one factor alone but we are very unhappy with this 35% decline in Indian students. In addition to the visa issue, Brexit is another as well as British PM Theresa May plans to scrutinize student visas further,”
“This decision is very damaging to our economy,” thinks Lord Karan Bilimoria, Chancellor of Birmingham University, who expressed that “the prevalent government's decision to crack down on visas is ‘economically illiterate’, The government has made a huge mistake in trying to reduce net migration”.
However, it is interesting to note that the Imperial College of London and Oxford University have not seen any decline in the number of Indian students and in fact, expect an increase in the intake this year as well.