Business Secretary Sajid Javid said that he would like to “break the link” between study and settlement of overseas students.
The British government would like to see overseas students who come to Britain to study in its world class universities leave as soon as they finish their courses — and not stay back to work or settle.
In an interview to BBC Radio 4 on Friday, Business Secretary Sajid Javid said that he would like to “break the link” between study and settlement of overseas students.
“What we do have is an immigration system that allows those who want to study in world class universities to come here,” he said. “We’ve also got to have a system that doesn’t allow any abuse, where people are using the right to study as a way to achieve settlement in Britain. We have to break the link. We should allow people [to come] here who want to study, and once they have completed [their studies] they leave.”
Indian students are second only to China amongst non-EU overseas students in higher education in the U.K. Rising tuition fees and an unfriendly visa system have seen the numbers drop.
Between 2012/13 and 2013/14, student numbers from India have fallen from 18525 to 16480; the same period saw Chinese student numbers rise from 69970 to 74020.
The revoking of the post-study work visa was a major deterrent for Indian students. Unlike their Chinese counterparts who usually come on Chinese Government scholarships, must take substantial loans to study here.
The British government’s immigration policy for students has been criticised by educationists, including by India born Nobel Prize winner Venkatraman Ramakrishnan. At a conference in London recently, Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University, who is of Polish extract descent, said the U.K.’s visa regime is “one of the biggest threats” to the U.K.’s higher education system. He referred to the fall in the numbers of Indian and Pakistani applicants for Tier-4 Student visas, saying that between 2011 and 2012 applications to U.K. universities by Indian and Pakistani students fell by 38 per cent and 62 per cent respectively.
Dominic Scott, Chief Executive of U.K. Council for International Student Affairs told The Hindu: “We are obviously very concerned about the remarks. If they mean that those who come to the U.K. to study should not stay on permanently and settle, then many might perhaps agree with him — although there is no evidence that significant numbers do.
“If they mean that well qualified students should not continue to be able to apply for Tier-2 jobs and Tier-2 visas in the U.K., having satisfied the current criteria, then this would obviously be extremely damaging and seems to go against everything the Prime Minister has said, in India and elsewhere, about the opportunities for students with graduate job offers to stay on for a short period after their studies.”