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India becomes UK’s largest source country of international students, surpasses China

by The Canadian Parvasi

The UK, in the past few years, has seen a significant rise in international students from India with statistics from the country’s official immigration department showing a 273% increase in study visas granted to Indians applying to UK-based universities.

According to immigration statistics, Indians, for the first time, have surpassed the Chinese to become the largest foreign student community in the UK.

Data collated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the UK Home Office states, “There were 127,731 study visa grants to main applicant Indian nationals in the year ending September 2022, an increase of 93,470 (273 per cent) compared to 2019. Chinese nationals were the second most common nationality granted sponsored study visas in the year ending September 2022, with 116,476 visas granted to main applicants, 2 per cent fewer than the number seen in 2019 (119,231).”

The data also indicates that Indians have the largest number of visa applications in the skilled worker visa category, with 56,042 visas granted in 2021 alone.

Indians also held the top spot for Health professional visas, representing 36 % of all visas applied, and the new Graduate Route visa, of which Indians accounted for 41% of all visas.

Following Brexit, the UK has witnessed a staggering boom in immigration with the Home Office statistics recording that net migration to the UK increased from 173,000 in the year to June 2021 to 504,000 in the year to June 2022, showing a significant increase of 331,000 migrants.

The rise in student immigration from India to the UK may be, among other factors, attributed to the high rejection rate of study visas by Canada, which has arguably been the most sought-after destination for Indian students wishing to study abroad. Statistics show that India has consistently been the second-largest source country for International students in Canada nation since 2012.

Media reports now suggest that 50% of the study visas being applied by Punjabi students- who constitute a substantial portion of all Indian immigrants to Canada- are being rejected by the country. Facing rejection, students are turning to the UK for study abroad opportunities.

According to a report by the British High Commission, around 120,000 sponsored study visas were issued to Indian students from June 2021 to June 2022, around 40% of which are applications from Punjab.

“Delay and high rejection rate for Canada has dejected students, who are nowadays opting for the UK as it has a 100 per cent success rate with students requiring only a 6-band score in each component of the IELTS exams. Universities in the UK are also offering various scholarships to students as well,” stated an Education Consultant, while speaking to media outlets.

While the current trends show an upward trajectory for immigration to the UK, the Rishi Sunak-led conservative party has expressed the desire to reduce migration on multiple occasions. Talking about the Free Trade Agreement that both the countries are trying to finalise, UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman recently singled out India, stating, “I have concerns about having an open borders migration policy with India because I don’t think that’s what people voted for with Brexit.”

“Look at migration in this country – the largest group of people who overstay are Indian migrants,” she added.

 

Indiarishi SunakStudent ImmigrationSuella BravermanUK