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Indian students remain positive about taking up their courses at UK universities this year despite the coronavirus lockdown and travel “red list” related constraints, official data indicates.
According to latest statistics, there was a 6,391 increase in the number of study visa grants to Indian nationals in the year ending March 2021 – marking a 13 per cent hike over the previous year. It indicates that most students are keen to take up their courses as they are able to return to university since lockdown eased further from May 17.
“Welcoming our students back in person is an important milestone in the UK’s recovery, and a positive sign for Indian students holding offers to study in the UK next academic year,” said Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International (UUKi), an organisation representing 146 UK universities.
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“We are grateful to our member universities, and to all students, for their incredible work, patience and resilience during this time. Throughout this time, have put the welfare of their students at the heart of what they do, and have been flexible to enable students to pursue their dream of undertaking higher education in the UK safely,” she said.
UUKi said that universities have done a lot of work besides switching to online learning, with a focus on students’ health and wellbeing, including providing food parcels, hardship funding and wellbeing support.
International education specialists IDP Connect have been monitoring student attitudes and motivations towards university study during the pandemic through their International Student Crossroads Reports and their April research shows that 83 per cent of Indian students with an offer to study in the UK in the autumn expect to commence their studies as planned, around September. Asked whether they would commence their studies if it meant travelling to the UK and then having their teaching delivered through a mixture of online and face-to-face, an overwhelming 94 per cent of Indian respondents said they would commence their studies under such circumstances.
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"Over the last few years many thousands more Indian students have chosen to trust UK higher education to build their career paths, and UK universities are looking forward to welcoming back their Indian students, as the country is now opening back up,” said Barbara Wickham, Director, British Council India.
“As Indian students plan to travel back to the UK, we encourage them to connect with their universities; and follow the travel rules for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as applicable,” she said.
Under current rules, Indians with a valid student visa can travel to the UK but must follow the red list travel requirement of a compulsory 10-day quarantine at a government-approved facility as part of measures to control the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19. There have been calls for university accommodation to also be approved for this self-isolation purpose.
As part of several measures in place, university and health authorities have highlighted that Indian students arriving in the UK in the coming months will also be able to access by registering with a local doctor when they arrive.