London: Indian students are set to benefit from an improved post-study visa regime as part of a new ‘International Education Strategy’ launched by the UK government Saturday in preparation for its post-Brexit policies.
The strategy is aimed at increasing the total number of international students from around the world choosing to study in the UK higher education system from the current level of 460,000 to 600,000 each year by 2030.
Indian students, who account for a major chunk of applicants from outside the European Union (EU) after China, are believed to be particularly sensitive to the post-study work option of being able to gain work experience following their degree courses at UK universities.
The new strategy, set to be rolled out in the coming years, will offer undergraduate and Masters’ students the chance to stay in the UK to look for work for six months after graduating.
“We know that our Indian students are ambitious and passionate about their chosen career paths, and we welcome the focus on employability in the international education strategy,” said Vivienne Stern, Director of the Universities UK International (UUK), the higher education representative body which worked with the government on the new strategy.
“The target to grow the number of international students in the UK to 600,000 should send a clear message to students around the world: we want you here,” she said.
Under the plans being formalised, undergraduate and Masters’ students will also have three months before graduating during which they can find work and change from a study visa to a work visa. At present, the process to switch from a student to work visa while in the UK is extremely complex.
Besides, PhD students will be able to stay in the UK for up to a year to find work after graduating and will also have three months before graduating during which they can find work and change from a study visa to a work visa.
Additionally, international graduates will be given two years after graduating during which they can apply to switch their UK study visa to a UK work visa from outside the UK.
While Indian student visa numbers for 2018 registered a 35 per cent hike to hit 19,505, that figure is seen as way below the potential applications when compared to China at 99,723 student visas.
The vision for an annual 30 per cent hike in international students by 2030 is expected to boost the income generated by the UK’s education exports to 35 billion pounds.