NEW DELHI: After UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak decided to backtrack on the plan to scrap the post study work visa for international students last week; Lord Karan Bilimoria, chancellor of the University of Birmingham, has advised students from India to go ahead and opt for the UK for higher education.
“After strong opposition from many important members of his Cabinet and the review report by the migration advisory committee (MAC) on the graduate visa route in the UK, Prime Minister Sunak has decided to keep the post study work visa for now. Indian students who had put their plans to study in the UK on hold, should now go ahead and pay their deposits to universities and enroll for their courses soon,” Bilimoria told the Times of India. He added that doubts over the graduate route for international students had impacted the attraction of the UK as study destination for Indian students earlier this year.
The graduate route allows international graduates to stay in the UK for two years after their studies (three years for PhD) to gain work experience.
“Tough new rules on international students not being able to bring their family members to the UK as well as the sharp increase in the minimum salary requirement for work visas have all contributed to the fall in number of Indian students choosing the UK for higher education. But now the decision on the graduate route remaining unchanged will have a positive effect and the number of Indian students going to the UK in September this year is very likely to rise,” Bilimoria said.
Indian students who join courses in the UK later this year have no further reason to worry about the graduate route, feels Bilimoria, since despite the hostile approach to immigration driven by the right wing of the Conservative government, the UK Prime Minister has decided to listen to the advice of the MAC and not to scrap the post study visa. “The post study work visa was started by the Labour Party government; but later scrapped by the Conservatives. If the Labour Party wins the upcoming elections in the UK, which is very likely, they will certainly retain it. I am upbeat that the number of Indian students to the UK will certainly rise considering that we have the best education in the world on offer,” Bilimoria added.
International students pay much higher fees and subsidise domestic students in the UK and experts feel that a big fall in the number of international students will hit the UK economy hard. “Many universities vice-chancellors in the UK are, in fact, worried about the fall in the number of international students and their finances. Without international students many post graduate courses will have to be closed,” Bilimoria felt.