Vidya Ram

Resolve visa issue for students, IT sector, says Indian High Commissioner

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on January 17, 2017

Indian High Commissioner to UK Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha

“Of course Brexit is a challenge but I see it more as an opportunity. Indian companies and businesses are looking forward to engaging more closely with their British counterparts.”

India’s new High Commissioner called on the UK and Indian governments to work together to tackle the issue of visas for students and IT professionals in the UK, and that Brexit presented opportunities to Indian companies, and a chance to further deepen the relationship between the two nations.

Speaking on Monday evening, Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha, who was appointed as High Commissioner last year, pointed to the need to work on both areas, at a time of “very good economic engagement between the two countries,” which were set to be further enhanced following May’s visit to India last November.

“Of course Brexit is a challenge but I see it more as an opportunity. Indian companies and businesses are looking forward to engaging more closely with their British counterparts,” he told the gathering of Indian and UK media at India House on Monday.

However, he highlighted the falling number of Indian students in the UK — where numbers had more than halved to 19,000 since 2010.

“In the field of education we have a bit of a problem,” he said, contrasting the situation with other countries including the US, Australia, Germany and France, “They are actively going on to campuses in India and trying to attract students there,” he said.

“There is something going wrong here because the UK has obviously been the first preference for Indian students,” he said.

“We need to see how we can ensure that the UK gets or attracts good students from India. Indian students are doing extremely well wherever they go. We need to sort out the issue of visas and this is where both governments are talking and engaging with each other.”

He also highlighted the position of Indian IT professionals. “In Europe the UK is again our first port of call and I think for us it’s very important our IT professionals can come here and go back. They contribute immensely not only to the local economy but the global economy, which is what they are doing in Silicon Valley and the rest of the world. It is very important that both countries engage in a manner beneficial for both India and the UK.” The High Commissioner’s comments come as figures last week showed a dramatic fall in the number of students from India.

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the numbers fell to 16,745 in 2015-16 from 29,900 in 2011-12. While there is no official cap on international students, a combination of a crackdown on education institutions, and a tightening of the visa regime is being blamed for the fall.

Critics are also concerned that the inclusion of students in the migrant numbers, although they are only temporary visitors, has meant they have been used to help meet government migration targets.

Members of the House of Lords have been pushing for the government to change this policy, though it remains to be seen whether they will succeed. Last year the UK government also introduced new visa restrictions that hit Indian workers coming to the UK, and the IT sector.

Published on January 17, 2017
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