LONDON: UK may soon introduce a first-of-its-kind visa only for Indian students which will allow them to work for two years after passing out of a British university.
In what is great news for Indian students planning to study in the UK, London’s charismatic mayor Boris Johnson, who is pitted to be prime minister David Cameron’s successor will propose to the government on Tuesday the introduction of a Commonwealth work visa.
It will first be rolled out first in India and will allow Indian students going to UK to live and work in UK for two years after finishing their degree irrespective of what their salary is.
Johnson who feels that UK needs stronger visa relationship with its Commonwealth partners will say “This would be with India, in the first instance, but could be extended to other Commonwealth countries, if successful.
The second proposal to be floated by Johnson will be a special work visa for graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for up to two years. Although not restricted to nationality, this would be attractive to Indian students for whom STEM degrees are popular.
“It would also help to meet a critical skills shortage in the UK in areas such as life sciences, engineering and technology,” Johnson will say.
Indian students in London were the third largest revenue generator for the city having contributed a whopping £130 million in 2014. Johnson’s recent analysis had found that Indian students paid 56 million pounds in fees and nearly 74 million pounds in living costs – the money creating and supporting 1643 jobs.
But visa changes and the scrapping of the Post Study Work Visa in 2012 which gave non-EU students the right to remain in the UK for two years after graduation has resulted in a massive dip in Indian students going to British universities to study. Johnson recently found that there has been a major fall in Indian students to UK – from 10% of all international students in London in 2010 to around 4% in 2014. Indian students coming to London and the rest of the UK have approximately halved over the last five years. In 2009/10 London welcomed 9,925 Indian students which fell to 4,790 in 2013/14.
This is the reason why Johnson will meet top representatives from London’s world famous universities at City Hall on Tuesday and put forward to the government two policy options on work opportunities following graduation which would be attractive to students from India.
Johnson said “London is indisputably the education capital of the world with more top performing universities than any other city globally. However, current restrictions on overseas students are putting off the brightest Indian minds from coming to study in the capital and it is crazy that we should be losing India’s top talent and global leaders of the future to countries like Australia and the United States. I hope we can work with London’s universities and government to address this and make sure the capital remains the leading destination for international students”.
Professor David Gann, vice-president of Imperial College said “Indian students contribute immeasurably to the intellectual, cultural and economic vitality of London. When they come to the capital, great things happen – for the UK, India and the world. Almost every day I meet innovative Indian students who are helping solve global challenges and create new opportunities: from antibiotic resistance and climate change to fintech and personalised medicine. We should be clear: London’s world-class universities’ doors are wide open to India’s brightest students”.
Professor David Sadler, vice principal (International) of Queen Mary University of London added “Either of the policy options set out by the Mayor, if adopted, would be a step in the right direction to begin to address the decline in Indian students enrolling at many of London’s universities. In offering students an opportunity to gain some relevant work experience in the UK post-graduation, they would help enable us to remain attractive to prospective students and their parents in the face of ever increasing competition for the brightest students globally”.
London attracts 100,000 international students every year, more than any other city in the world. These students contribute £3bn to the capital’s economy and help to support 37,000 jobs according to research from the Mayor’s promotional agency London and Partners.
Estimates say that by 2024, one in every three outbound higher education students across the globe is expected to be from India and China. By 2024, it is expected that there will be 3.85 million outbound mobile higher education students globally. India and China will contribute 35% of global growth during this period. Indian students will be the second highest chunk with 3.76 lakh of them travelling to enrol in foreign universities.