Thursday, August 04, 2011

Indian student traffic to UK, US may decline

The UK government's review of its visa norms since April is making students explore other study destinations. Accredited overseas education consultants call it the Australia and the US effect. “With the instances of students getting attacked in Australia in 2009, and now sham universities in the US, UK has become stringent with its visa norms. It wants more serious students to come to UK,” said a Hyderabad-based overseas education consultant.

Australia recorded a decline of almost 63 per cent – from 18,514 in 2009-10 to just 6,875 in 2010-11 – in offshore international student visa applications from India in the last financial year. The UK, with an objective of reducing net migration and ensuring best talent, introduced changes to Tier II of the points-based system (for skilled migrants).

“Research showed that many migrants with Tier I post study work visas did not in fact find employment while others found low-skilled employment which was not commensurate with their qualifications. Tier I has been refocused as a route for entrepreneurs, investors and (from August 9) people with exceptional talent,” said Sam Murray, Regional Communications Manager, UK Border Agency, South Asia.

As a result, more and more students are looking at destinations like Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Ireland and Australia. “Canada is benefitting the most from changes in UK visa norms. Traffic to Australia and Europe too is catching up. We expect UK visa numbers to decline as largely Indian students go to private colleges in the UK. Majority of these colleges cater to students from low-income groups who prefer working than studying,” said Naveen Chopra, promoter and chairman, The Chopras, an overseas education consultant based in New Delhi.

This April, UK did away with the Tier I Post Study Work (PSW) visa. The UK Border Agency confirmed that changes in the student visa rules will result in fewer visa applications. “The UK government is committed to minimising abuse of the student immigration system, while ensuring support for the brightest and best students to continue to study at UK’s highest quality education institutions," said Murray.

The post study work route allowed international graduates to remain in the UK for up to two years, whether or not they were able to find work. The new announcement says, the post-study work route will close from April 2012. Closure of the PSW was triggered by an increase in abuse in the private education sector in the UK. “It was found that there was increasing abuse in the private further education sector (by some, but not all colleges), so the reforms were targeted at those institutions where change was considered to be most necessary,” said Murray.

The first tranche of reforms in April this year included extending the more comprehensive public sector accreditation requirements to private education providers and ensuring that all sponsors meet highly trusted sponsor status. “The new system is designed to ensure students come for a limited period, to study, not work,” UK's Home Secretary Theresa May had said, while announcing the new regulation.

Source: Business Standard, August 4, 2011
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