After graduating, Indian students studying in the UK may have to leave if they are unable to find employment within six months of graduation. The length of a post-study visa for international students will be cut short in the UK. Suella Braverman, the UK Home Secretary, is reportedly proposing new guidelines for the UK Graduate Visa. The timing of this coincides with the country’s high immigration rates.
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Net migration prompts government action
In its 2019 election, the UK’s Conservative administration made a commitment to reduce net migration. As of June of this year, there was a net migration of 5,04,000 individuals to the UK. In response, the government has announced plans to restrict the entrance of international students to only top universities.
According to the government, the number of family members who can travel with the student to the country will also be restricted. These new regulations will only apply to international students who are not already residing in the United Kingdom.
UK faces a dilemma on international student migration
The United Kingdom faces a complex situation regarding international student migration. On the one hand, the country needs skilled scientists and engineers to meet its scientific development objectives. Universities charge higher tuition fees to international students to compensate for the subsidized education provided to British citizens. Additionally, the inflow of international students is crucial for the sustainability of UK universities. A decline in migration could put them at risk of closure. On the other hand, the government must also consider its commitment to lower net migration rates.
The United Kingdom’s government is working to strike a balance and has announced that elite universities will be excluded from these restrictions. However, this will likely impact the immigration hopes of thousands of students considering studying in the United Kingdom.
71% rise in study visa issuance impacts services
In June 2022 compared to 2019, there were 2.15 times as many visas issued to Indian students. The overall number of sponsored study visas issued increased by 71%. These figures, along with an increase in family members, have placed a strain on the infrastructure for housing, healthcare, education, and other services.
Other options available to international students
International students considering higher education in the UK are advised to review the list of institutions that are not affected by these restrictions. They may also consider other countries for their education, such as the USA, Germany, France, and Singapore and Indian students. Medical students may also consider the Philippines, China, or Ukraine as options.
Mr Sunak’s official spokesman insisted the PM supported Britain’s universities which were “some of the very best in the world”.
But he was also “fully committed” to bringing overall immigration levels down, blaming “unprecedented and unique circumstances” for the record high.
The official said: “We’re considering all options to make sure the immigration system is delivering, and that does include looking at the issue of student dependants and low-quality degrees.”
Official figures show around 504,000 more people are estimated to have moved to the UK than left in the 12 months to June 2022, up sharply from 173,000 in the year to June 2021.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the jump was driven by “unique” factors including visa schemes for Ukrainians and Hong Kong citizens, and students arriving from outside the European Union.
People arriving on study visas accounted for the largest proportion of long-term immigration of non-EU nationals, at 277,000, or 39% of the total, according to the ONS.
The government has promised to cut net migration – the difference between the numbers entering and leaving the UK.
Ms Braverman has said she wants to revive a repeatedly missed target to reduce net migration to below 100,000.
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