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It has been more than half a year since the United Kingdom left the European Union. Brexit, as it is commonly called, left in its wake many conflicting opinions. Most European nations are either sad or displeased about Brexit. In a poll, 49% of respondents from the UK were unhappy about Brexit. Sweden, Belgium, Spain and Poland also seemed sad about UK’s exit from the EU, while France appeared not to care. Looking beyond Europe, there appear to be more countries that aren’t too concerned about this as they see potential gains from Brexit. India is one among these countries, as UK PM, Theresa May’s visit to India set the way for a better relationship between the two countries as they discussed a mutually beneficial free trade agreement. While most countries have had strong opinions about Brexit before and after the event happened, it is the immigrants who are most affected by it.
75% of the British support international student growth
The tightening of visa policies has severely influenced international student mobility in the UK. Several students, who once looked at the UK as the ultimate destination for higher education, are now considering other options such as Canada, Australia, Germany and New Zealand more favorably. While the UK government’s hardline policies appear to indicate a desire to reduce international student inflow to their universities, the British people don’t appear to want this. 75% expressed their hope for international student numbers to either increase or stay the same, while only 24% said they viewed international students as immigrants and expressed their concerns about these numbers rising.
Indian student numbers to the UK drop by 50%
The stricter visa policies prevent students from staying on in the UK after they have completed their education, thereby hindering their chances of finding a job. As most students have loans to pay off, this is without a doubt a large deterrent for international students hoping to study in the UK. Indian students pursuing an education in the UK dropped by 50% between 2010 and 2015 due to the tightening of visa policies.
There is hope for higher education in the UK
Although Brexit has made the UK look unattractive when compared to it’s more welcoming neighbors from the EU – like cold grey cement splashed across its canvas, while those around it are painted with warm inviting colors; this particular picture isn’t quite accurate. Brexit would ensure that every international student has equal access to seats at British universities, as students from an EU nation would no longer have special privileges. In addition to university seats, the levelling of the playing field also provides other international students with more opportunities in other areas. However, there is also a downside here, as European students to the UK will now be counted as immigrants and this would bring down the scope of issuing visas to non-EU students due to the immigration visa limit. Some Indian experts are hopeful, as they believe that the rupee will rise and hold its own against the pound, which would be beneficial for Indian students in terms of paying the university’s fees. More positive news is the British Council’s intention to retain the UK’s position as a favorite education destination for Indian students. According to Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha, High Commissioner to the UK, issues have been raised at the highest level with the UK government, which has recognized the necessity to address these issues.
What do you gain from studying in the UK?
The director of the British Council, South India, Mei-kwei Barker has addressed some of these issues and even stressed on the benefits of studying at a UK university. She said that over 5,00,000 international students are presently pursuing their higher education at UK universities, and over 6,000 students received post-study visas. According to her, 28,000 companies in the UK have been licensed to sponsor international students. GREAT scholarships are available for Indian students, and according to her the Indian program is the largest in the world. To shine more light on the beneficial prospects for Indian students studying in the UK, she cited a recent report, which claimed that students returning to India from the UK started out with salaries of around 11 lakhs, while non-UK graduates would get around 3.3 lakhs.
While countries like Germany, Canada, Australia and Spain are growing in popularity for Indian students, UK isn’t out of the game yet, and pursuing your higher education at a UK university is worth considering.