Indian Students To Benefit From Improved U.K. Post-Study Visa Regime

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Indian students are set to benefit from an improved post-study visa regime as part of a new “International Education Strategy” launched by the U.K. government on Saturday in preparation for its post-Brexit policies.

The strategy is aimed at increasing inflow of international students to the U.K.—from 4,60,000 per year at present to 6,00,000 each year by 2030.

Indian students, who account for a major chunk of applicants from outside European Union after China, are believed to be particularly sensitive to work options available to them after completing studies in the U.K.

The new strategy, set to be rolled out in the coming years, will offer undergraduate and postgraduate students the chance to stay in the U.K. to look for work for six months after graduating.

“We know that our Indian students are ambitious and passionate about their chosen career paths, and we welcome the focus on employability in international education strategy,” said Vivienne Stern, director of Universities UK International, that represents U.K. universities around the world and works to enable them to flourish internationally.

“The target to grow the number of international students in U.K. to 6,00,000 should send a clear message to students around the world: we want you here,” she added.

Under the plans being formalised, undergraduate and masters’ students will get three months before graduation to find work in the U.K. and change their student visas to work visas. PhD students will get an added benefit of staying in the U.K. for up to a year to find work after completion of their doctorate.

At present, the process to switch from a student visa to work visa while in the U.K. is extremely complex.

“During the post-study leave period, students will have unrestricted access to work,” the strategy paper noted. Additionally, international graduates will be given two years after graduation during which they can apply to switch their U.K. study visa to a U.K. work visa from outside the U.K.

“The withdrawal of post-study work visa was attributed with a decline in international students coming to the U.K. from key markets, notably India,” said Lord Karan Bilimoria, co-chair of the country’s all-party parliamentary group and president of the U.K. Council for International Student Affairs. He has been lobbying for reintroduction of the post-study visa option.

Between 2010-11 and 2016-17, the number of higher education students from India more than halved, noted a report by the U.K.’s All Party Parliamentary Group for International Students in November last year.

“Even Canada attracts more students from India than the U.K. does,” said Bilimoria.

To be sure, the number of student visas issued to Indians rose 35 percent to 19,505 in 2018, but that figure is a fraction of the 99,723 visas issued to Chinese students in the same year.

“As we prepare to leave the EU, it is more important than ever to reach out to our global partners and maximise the potential of our best assets that includes our education offer and the international students this attracts,” said U.K. Education Secretary Damian Hinds as he unveiled the new post-study visa strategy.

“Our education exports are ripe for growth and my international economic department stands ready to engage and support U.K. providers from across the education sector to grow their global activity as we implement this new International Education Strategy,” said U.K. Trade Secretary Liam Fox.

The reworked strategy is expected to boost the income generated by U.K.’s education exports to £35 billion by 2030.

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