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UK parliamentary body calls for post-study visa to woo Indian students

Vidya Ram London | Updated on November 06, 2018 Published on November 06, 2018

Graduates leave after a graduation ceremony at Oxford University, in Britain (file photo)   -  REUTERS

Increasingly restrictive policies over years have discouraged many international students from applying to the UK

A cross-party group of British Parliamentarians are calling for the government to overhaul the way it approaches international students, pointing to the controversy over the exclusion of Indian students from a relaxation of documentation rules as an instance of the negative impact on policy on perceptions and student numbers.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on students – an unofficial group of Members of the House of Lords and House of Commons – released a report on Tuesday calling for the British government to set a “clear and ambitious” target to grow the number of international students in the UK, not only removing students from net migration targets but also reintroducing a post-study work visa for up to two years of work. “At present the UK unlike many of its competitors does not have a target to increase the number of international students…this fundamentally influences the nature of student migration policy,” reads the report, which outlines 12 practical steps it believes would help boost Britain’s attractiveness to foreign students based on oral and written evidence gathered from an inquiry launched in July.

“Increasingly restrictive policies and procedures over the last eight years have discouraged many international students from applying to the UK,” said MP Paul Blomfield, co-chair of the APPG. “It’s time for us to move on and target growth in the number of international students,” said Lord Bilimoria, the crossbench member of the House of Lords and founder of Cobra Beer, who noted that Canada now outpaced Britain when it came to attracting Indian students. “British universities used to lead the world in attracting international students. But now all our major competitors are growing at a rate far greater than us, and in areas where we have seen the greatest decline.”

The British government has come under increasing pressure to reform its international students regime. In September the body representing British universities urged the introduction of a post-study work visa that was dropped by the Conservative government in 2012 and is seen as one of many factors contributing to numbers of international students in the UK remaining flat, even as numbers have grown elsewhere.

Published on November 06, 2018
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