Brexit, if it happens, could see greater flow of Indian students to the United Kingdom. A probable reinstatement of post-study work visa can lead to an immediate rise in flow by 30 40 per cent and doubling and tripling of student population in the ensuing years.
Experts believe that Brexit will further squeeze government financial aids to the UK universities. This, in turn, would see education institutions pressuring the government to relax the post-study visa norms, leading to higher intake of international students.
In 2012, the UK government had dropped the post-study work visa for international students when they found many misusing it. As a consequence, the number of Indian students in the UK came down from 39,090 in 2010-11 to a low of 16,550 in 2016-17. All these years, universities have been asking for reinstatement of the post-study work visa of two years, which was a major attraction for students choosing the UK.
“At one time, UK was the second largest overseas education market for Indians and the numbers were seen dropping by around 60 per cent after the government decision,” said Suresh Kumar, director, Truematics, an overseas education consultancy firm.
According to Rohit Sethi, director, ESS Global-Study Abroad Consultant, the government will not be able to provide financial aid to the universities post-Brexit as much as it used to do earlier due to financial constraints. “In many universities, the total fees paid by international students are double or triple of what native students pay. Hence, the universities would further put pressure on the government to reintroduce the post-study work visa,” he opined.
Moreover, almost two years back, the UK had allowed six-months work visa for a few elite universities. Pressure would be exerted on extending this facility to other universities as well.
“If the government brings back at least the one-year visa, we would easily see 30 to 40 per cent rise in student numbers,” said Kumar.
Sethi says the numbers can even double or triple in the coming years. “We won’t be surprised if the UK attracts as many students as we send to Australia now, which is currently around one lakh,” he said.