Indian Students' UK Master's Applications Fall By 21,800 Amid Migration Curbs

Indian Students' UK Master's Applications Fall By 21,800 Amid Migration Curbs

UK Home Office data, based on figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), reported a 16 percent drop in Indian student applicants in the year ending December 2023, contributing to an overall 10 percent decrease in net migration compared to 2022.

Siksha MUpdated: Friday, May 24, 2024, 05:42 PM IST
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The number of Indian students choosing to pursue their higher education in the UK is significantly declining. Official statistics released in London on Thursday revealed that there were over 21,000 fewer Master's degree applicants from India compared to the previous year.

According to the PTI, UK Home Office data, based on figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), reported a 16 percent drop in Indian student applicants in the year ending December 2023, contributing to an overall 10 percent decrease in net migration compared to 2022.

These figures align with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's objective of lowering immigration, an important strategy ahead of the general election on July 4. However, the reduction in student visa applications raises concerns for universities that depend heavily on fees from overseas students.

The Home Office analysis states, “There were 116,455 sponsored study visa grants to main applicants that are Indian nationals in the year ending March 2024 (26 percent of the total), 21,717 fewer than the previous year.”

As reported by PTI, the data further highlights that “the majority (94,149, or 81 percent) of Indian students come to the UK to study at Master's level, and the recent decrease in Indian students was driven by 21,800 fewer Indian nationals coming to study at Master's level.”

This drop comes after a visa crackdown that prevented students from bringing dependent family members earlier in the year. Vice chancellors of universities and diaspora organisations are currently pressuring the government to preserve the Graduate Route program's offer of a post-study work visa. Even with the decline, Indian citizens continued to make up the majority of students who were given visas under this program—64,372 grants, or 46% of the total—as they continued to be the largest group.

In addition, as of March of this year, 2,105 Indian nationals had received grants under the recently established India Young Professionals Scheme, which has an annual cap of 3,000 visas.

According to the ONS, Indians continue to be the largest group granted skilled worker visas, with many immigrating for work in the health and social care sector. The top five nationalities for long-term immigration to the UK in 2023 were Indian (250,000), Nigerian (141,000), Chinese (90,000), Pakistani (83,000), and Zimbabwean (36,000), as reported by PTI.

According to ONS estimates, 532,000 people left the UK and 1.22 million people arrived overall in 2023. “Long-term net migration (the number of people immigrating minus the number emigrating) was provisionally estimated to be 685,000 in the year ending (YE) December 2023, compared with our updated estimate of 764,000 for the year ending December 2022; while it is too early to say if this is the start of a new downward trend, emigration increased in 2023, while new Home Office data show visa applications have fallen in recent months,” the ONS noted.

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