As student traffic from India to the UK takes a hit following a revision of visa rules some time back, UK’s Universities Minister Greg Clark has sought to reassure Indian students that his country continues to value them and that bona fide students would never face any visa obstacles.
“We want to send a very clear message that we would like to see more students from India enrolling at universities in the UK. They will get a very cordial welcome,” the UK’s Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities, told The Indian Express.
The minister was a on visit to India last week during which he conveyed this message to the Indian authorities. “I have conveyed that it is straightforward to get a UK visa for bona fide students. At the end of their study, they can even work in the UK for five years. There is a very good record of people doing that,” he said.
The number of Indian students going to the UK has seen a decline in the last one year and it has been blamed mainly on changes in immigration rules that have placed tighter restrictions on students. But Clark said these were only “administrative wrinkles”. In fact, before coming to India, Clark had written to Indian High Commissioner in London, Ranjan Mathai, agreeing to a proposal for regular interactions to deal with the “perception that sometimes arises that Indian students may encounter unreasonable obstacles from the visa process”.
“We are determined that any such perception should be dispelled, and we very much agree with your proposal that we should regularly review any such concerns that may be expressed about the administration of the system, so that they can be laid to rest where they are unfounded, or deal with identified unintended frictions,” he wrote in the letter to Mathai.
Clark said the two sides should meet every three months and work together “to provide confidence to Indian students that we most cordially welcome them at UK universities and that our visa system operates efficiently and fairly”.
During his visit, India and the UK also pushed an initiative that will make the travel of students a two-way traffic. The two countries agreed to provide support to 25,000 students and researchers from the UK to come to India over the next five years.