The UK government has decided to make some changes in its immigration policy targeted at student visa rules and has excluded India from a new list of 26 “low risk” countries which would have an easier visa application process for studying at UK universities.
Students from the listed countries would not be required to show proof for educational, financial and English speaking skills. This will come into effect from July 6 this year.
Indian students applying to study at UK universities, however, will have to continue facing the rounds of difficult checks and documentary processes.
At first, the UK targeted the Indian IT firms, raising the minimum requirement to apply for a visa from 20,800 pounds to 30,000 pounds, and now here are their new visa rules targeting the students.
WHY HAS INDIA BEEN EXCLUDED AND WHAT DOES IT SAY ABOUT THE UK-INDIA POLITICAL RELATIONSHIP?
The list already covered countries like the US, Canada, and New Zealand, and the UK further added 11 countries including China, Bahrain, Serbia, and others that are just as competitive as India.
This deeply highlights the strained relationship between the UK and India since Narendra Modi’s visit to London previously this year.
Earlier this year, Sushma Swaraj had decided upon not signing a MoU that the UK had sought, regarding the coming back of illegal migrants, clearly putting a bar on India- UK relations.
Since Brexit, a free trade pact between Britain and India is a crucial issue to Britain’s economy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always made it clear that freedom and mobility of students and professionals would always impact this post-Brexit trade agreement.
Clearly, the new student visa rules will boomerang as a negative impact on Britain’s economy.
However, should such political issues really be allowed to come in between providing good education to Indian students?
IMPACT ON INDIAN STUDENTS
This particular move has caused a lot of outrage among Indian students, and why wouldn’t it?
While Indians are leading top MNCs worldwide such as Microsoft, Google, MasterCard, Nokia etc., UK still considers us unqualified to study at their ‘privileged’ universities.
Although India still remains amongst the top three countries to obtain a UK student visa, there has been an unfortunate and steep decline of 50% in Indian students studying in UK universities in the last six years.
Adding to this, the UK has introduced this new list that excludes India and sends an offsetting message to the Indian students who aspire to study in their universities.
Sanam Arora, chairperson of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (U.K.) brings out an important aspect to this new rule by the UK, by saying that,
“We are concerned about the messaging that is being sent to India — rather than recognising the value that Indian students bring, are we actually reinforcing the message of ‘bogus students’? It is important to note that today’s announcement makes no change to the process of application for Indian students but it is the perception of this message amongst Indian students that worries us. Is it really fair that an Indian student getting into a British university is treated different to a Chinese student getting into the same university? And this raises another question — will China continue to get even more favorable actions while India gets the rhetoric?”
Lord Karan Bilimoria, President of the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), described the move as an insult to India and another example of Britain’s economically illiterate and hostile attitude toward immigration.
WHAT DOES THE UK GOVERNMENT HAVE TO SAY ABOUT IT?
The UK government has made it clear that around 90% of the Indian students who apply for UK universities, get a visa, a figure that has gone up from 86 percent in 2014 and 83 percent in 2013.
For the 50% steep decline of Indian students studying at UK universities, the home office drops it off calling it a “perception issue”.
It is quite obvious that when it becomes easier for students from other countries to apply for and get a visa, the proportion of Indian students in UK universities will decline due to limited capacities.
Indian students, however, have moved on. If British universities are to behave so unwelcomingly, there are several other top universities in the US, Canada and even in some other European countries, which are clearly more friendly.
Image Sources: Google Images
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