The flow of Indian students to the United Kingdom is set to go up post-Brexit on March 29, 2019, with early signs of an uptick already visible.
According to data available with the Higher Education Statistics Agency of the UK, the number of students going to the UK jumped by 6.9% to 9,720 in 2016-17, after the country voted in favour of leaving the European Union on June 23, 2016. Prior to that, the number of Indian students travelling to the UK for higher education was on a decline.
“There is an element of excitement among the Indian students because of Brexit as they think it will create a level playing field in terms of the immigration,” Sanam Arora, Chairperson, National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU-UK) told DH.
In the current set-up, students belonging to European Union countries don’t need a Visa to study in the colleges across the UK. According to Sanam, the increasing income levels in India are also contributing to the rise in Indian students going to the UK for studies.
The trend of growth seems to continue for the second year, as well, with 18,735 Indian nationals granted a Tier 4 student visa in the year ending September 2018.
Many other analysts attribute the increase in the number of students going to the UK for higher education to the depreciation of British pound, post-Brexit.
Ten months after the Brexit, the British currency depreciated over 20% in value to close at 79.9 against the Indian currency on March 14, 2017. It’s still trading around 8% lower than the pre-Brexit value.
“This has brought down the cost for students travelling to the UK and contributing to the rise in student outflow,” said an analyst tracking the sector.
In the five years building up to Brexit, the flow of Indian students to the UK had declined by a whopping 18% CAGR. During 2010-11, a record number of 23,970 Indian students travelled to the UK for higher education. Subsequently, the number declined to 9,095 students in 2015-16.
According to estimates available with NISAU-UK, the total number of Indian students studying in Britain has come down from a peak of about 60,000 to 20,000 as of date.
Observers and students attribute this drop to the policies of David Cameron-led conservative government in the Uk. “The change in the immigration laws also lead to the decrease in Indian students travelling to the UK over that period of time,” an Indian student, who studied from London School of Economics told DH. The British government had reduced the post-study time for foreign students in Britain after their degree, making education in Britain less lucrative.
Among many other moves, the British government’s crackdown on bogus colleges in the UK also led to the steep decline in Indian students travelling to that country.
In fact, the government officials from Britain are also visiting India to woo more Indian students. On January 16, 2019, a UK government delegation visited India for talks on easing of migration rules for students.