The government of the United Kingdom is planning to cut annual student visa figures by nearly half. According to a media report as mentioned in HT, the UK government plans to cut visa from the current 300,000 to 170,000.
This move comes in the background of a sharp fall in international students including Indian students going to British colleges and universities.
Some university chiefs are also warning that many Indian students are already being denied visas on minor grounds as part of a wider move to cut immigration into the UK.
"They are telling some students there is exactly the same quality of course available in India, so why are you coming here. That is outrageous," a UK vice-chancellor was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper.
This move by the government of UK comes despite recent UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures indicating there has been a drastic drop in students coming to the UK from outside Europe.
"There was a statistically significant decline in the number of non-EU citizens migrating to the UK to study, from 134,000 in the previous year to 111,000 there was a statistically significant decline in citizens of South Asia, with the number coming to study having almost halved," ONS said in its Migration Statistics Quarterly Report: August 2016.
Indian ranks third in the most number of student visa applications after the US and China, with 10,664 granted between June 2015 and 2016.
"International students contribute, directly and indirectly, 14 billion pounds to the UK economy, making higher education one of this country's most valuable exports. Over the last five years, the number of Indian students attending UK universities has halved. I have consistently asked the government to remove students from the net migration target," said Lord Bilimoria, leading Indian-origin entrepreneur and Cobra Beer founder, who himself came to the UK as a student.
"We should immediately re-introduce the two-year post-study work visa, which I fought hard to introduce before its withdrawal in 2012, to allow foreign students to implement their much-needed skills here and help boost our economy," he added.
However, senior university sources indicate the UK Home Office is on track for some dramatic immigration cuts in student visa numbers. While it has dismissed rumours of an annual cutback of more than two-thirds, the likely cut to around 170,000 seems likely to be enforced.
A UK Home Office spokesperson said: "Claims that the Home Office is modelling cuts to reduce international students to a third [ie 100,000 a year] are categorically untrue."
"We want to strengthen the system to support the best universities and those that stick to the rules to attract the best talent. The British people have sent a clear message that they want more control of immigration and we are committed to getting net migration down to sustainable levels in the tens of thousands," he said.