Narendra Modi Pushes Cameron on UK-India Education Cooperation


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently discussed his concerns over a sharp decrease in the number of Indian students studying in the UK, as well as the issues they face when applying for visas, during a talk with UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

According to a spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs, Modi said that the number of Indian students studying in the UK has dropped by 50% over the past three years.  He continued to say that the Prime Minister believes these students to be among the brightest in the world and is pushing for a partnership between the two countries to continue, calling it “a win-win partnership for both sides,” with India gaining a quality education for their students and the UK “benefiting from the expertise that Indian students bring.”

“The Prime Minister said we are right now in a situation where countries are actually wooing Indian students because India has the biggest education market today. There’s a burgeoning middle class, there is an aspirational upper class that wants to educate its kids abroad and it’s an opportunity to tap into what has become a big economic market,” the spokesman said.

Cameron responded by saying that he understood the situation and found it to be a matter in need of further discussion.

Cameron has made visits to India three times since 2010, while the UK diplomatic network has become the largest in India.  The UK is currently the third largest source of foreign direct investment in the country, and India is currently the third largest source of FDI in the UK.

A recent report published by the British Council, titled India Matters, suggests that Indian students continue to be excited to visit the UK, particularly for its culture.  Also, UK students have become interested in India with the creation of the Generation UK-India program, which allows for short-term study and work placement in the country and currently has over 4,000 applicants.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the Higher Education Funding Council for England has found that the number of Indian students studying in the UK dropped from 18,535 in the 2010-11 school year to only 10,235 in 2012-13.

Universities in the country have continued to argue that recent efforts to reduce net migration by Conservatives has hurt their ability to recruit international students.  Universities are pushing for these students to not be included in net migration figures.

The UK recently decided to remove the post-study work visa, which had allowed students to remain in the country and work for two years after graduation. This move is seen by many to be the cause of the decline of Indian students in the UK, who are now choosing to study in other countries, including the US,  Australia and Germany for education, employment, and investment opportunities.