UK-bound Indian student recruitment figures grow for the first time since 2010

6 December 2016

By Richard Everitt, Director Education, British Council India

On the first of December the UK Home Office released data on the student visas issued between July and September this year. Figures show a 6% increase in the number of Indian students receiving visas, compared to the same period last year. Is this a significant turning point in Indian student recruitment, after years of declining numbers?

Study UK: Discover You

This welcome news comes shortly after the unveiling of the UK's new global student recruitment campaign – 'Study UK: Discover You' in India. The campaign was launched by the Rt. Hon. Jo Johnson and UUK CEO Nicola Dandridge. 198 new scholarships for Indian students studying in the UK, funded by universities and the GREAT campaign in a cost-sharing model, were also announced. The launch was followed by a five city exhibition road show attended by over 50 UK universities.

However, there is still much to be done to re-build the market back to a figure which would correctly reflect the importance of the UK/India bilateral relationship.

It is vital that universities nurture their alumni, especially those who have studied in the UK over the last five years. The latter group represents both the smallest cohort in the last decade and the most credible advocates of UK education in India. This requires sustained investment from universities and co-ordination between the organisations that support them, regardless of prevailing government policies.

SIEM Conference

It is thus timely that later this week 450 delegates from universities across the UK will gather in Belfast with marketing specialists from the British Council representing 50 countries. They will be meeting at the British Council Services for International Education Marketing (SIEM) annual conference to discuss the best approaches to marketing their institutions around the world, recruiting international students and ensuring the UK continues to be the destination of choice.  

India is home to the largest university-aged cohort in the world. Subsequent Indian graduates have the potential to impact global labour markets around the world in the coming decades. It is vital that UK universities continue to offer high quality values-based education to these students, helping instil principles of inclusivity in this, the next international leadership cohort.

Confident indicator

The Home Office data is significant as July to September is the busiest quarter in the year for student visa applications and thus a confident indicator of a market turning around. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) also confirmed that 89% of all student applicants in India are now getting their visas issued. Last week a UK university vice-chancellor told me that Indian student numbers were up at said university and concluded that if the offer is right, Indian students will come to the UK to study. 

We need to remember that numbers of Indian students have fallen drastically since 2011 and that this is a three-month indicator rather than a full year's data. However, it is still a welcome boost for the UK and a positive note on which to end the 2016 UK-India year of Education Research and Innovation – a year-long campaign to strengthen the future of this important bilateral relationship.

 Source: British Council India

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