The number of students from India attending universities in the United Kingdom has continued its decrease from last year despite commitments from both countries to increase educational cooperation, according to newly released statistics. The most likely cause according to education officials is the cessation of post-study work visas, which prevents newly-graduated foreign students from working in the UK to begin their career.
Though the UK experienced a decrease in students from many of the countries that commonly access its higher education system, India has been hit particularly hard. This year, the number of Indian first-year enrollments fell by 10 percent, from 11,270 to 10,125.
The United States has now overtaken India as a bigger source of first-year enrollments in the UK, with China in first place. The fourth and fifth largest non-EU contributors of students, Nigeria and Malaysia, decreased as well. However, total numbers of non-EU enrollments rose by 1 percent.
In the same period of time, the US achieved a ten percent growth in international students, Australia had eight percent, Canada had 11 percent, and Germany showed a seven per cent increase.
Despite concerns that the dearth of post-study work visas is harming higher education in the UK, Prime Minister David Cameron recently denied the reintroduction of that visa program. The government stopped issuing the visa, which allowed students to graduate from a university and then work in the UK for the next two years, in 2012, reports the Times of India.
In regards to his decision, Cameron told the House of Commons:
We don’t need the brightest and best of students to come here and then do menial jobs. That’s not what our immigration system is for.
The trend has officials worried that the UK isn’t holding its own in the arena of world-class education, writes Natalie Marsh of PIE News.
John Morgan of Times Higher Education quoted Gordon Slaven, the director of higher education for the British Council:
There is now a clear trend of the UK’s global market share declining compared with other countries, and we need to take urgent steps to address, and stem this decline. Other countries are currently gaining at the UK’s expense and the government and sector must work together to ensure that our world-class higher education system remains attractive and accessible to every ambitious young person in the world.
Dame Julia Goodfellow, Universities UK president and University of Kent vice-chancellor, said:
It is essential that the UK government presents a welcoming climate for genuine international students and academics and ensures that visa and immigration rules are proportionate and communicated appropriately.
These statistics come from a report published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
The agency also found that part-time student enrollment was continuing to decline, as well as undergraduate enrollment in general. Dame Julia Goodfellow stated that she hopes that the extension of student maintenance loans to part-time students, beginning in the 2018-2019 school year, will rectify the falling numbers and increase enrollment across the board.