India has expressed concern over the massive drop in Indian students in the UK and has called for visa issues to be resolved.
The Indian high commissioner to the UK, Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha, who took charge of his post last December, highlighted the sharp contrast between the current trend in the UK and the rising number of Indian student in the US, Australia and across Europe at a press event at India House in London on Monday (16).
“In the field of education we have a bit of a problem because the number of Indian students [in the UK] was 40,000 or so in 2010 but has now dropped to 19,000,” he said.
“Compared to figures for the US, which had 104,000 Indian students in 2010 and today they have 166,000. Australia had 19,000 in 2010 and has 40,000 today,” he said.
Sinha added that the dramatic drop in numbers highlighted a problem because the UK had always been the first preference for Indian students.
“We need to see how we can ensure that the UK attracts good students from India because Indian students are doing extremely well everywhere they go,” he explained.
Sinha also pointed out that over 10,000 and 5,000 Indian students are studying in Germany and France respectively, with university representatives actively going into Indian campuses to persuade students to continue their studies abroad.
“I think that UK universities are doing a great job but we need to sort out the issues regarding visas,” Sinha said. “It is an area where both governments are talking to each other.”
The Indian high commissioner also flagged up the issue of movement of professionals as another area of concern, referring to the UK as the “first port of call in Europe” for Indians due to a shared history and other commonalities.
“In the field of IT, our professionals are renowned the world over,” he said. “It is very important they can come and work and go back. They will contribute immensely not only to the local economy but also the global economy.”
Stressing the need for both countries to continue to engage in a manner that will result in a “win-win situation”, he highlighted Theresa May’s visit to India last November as particularly significant in having further enhanced the “very substantial economic engagement”.
He said India had a very good economic engagement with the UK, with trade in goods at about $14 billion (£11.5bn) and another $5bn (£4bn) from services.
“But besides that, the UK is very important in terms of investment scope, being the largest G20 investor into India and having 800 Indian companies operate here, bringing about £1 billion in taxes to the exchequer and employing over a 100,000 people,” he added.