The new Graduate Route visa introduced by the UK government in July last year to allow international students the chance to stay on and work at the end of their degree is led by Indians – accounting for 41 per cent of such visas granted.
The special High Potential Individual (HPI) visa, launched in May this year to attract the brightest graduates from the world’s top universities around the world to work in the UK, also saw a 14 per cent grant to Indian nationals despite no Indian university being on the approved set of top global universities.
These latest statistics from the UK Home Office and Office for National Statistics (ONS) highlight the impact of Indian students on the diaspora living bridge as they overtook Chinese nationals as the largest group of foreign students studying in the UK.
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There were 127,731 study visa grants to Indian nationals in the year ending September 2022, an increase of 93,470 compared to 34,261 in 2019 – marking a 273 per cent increase.
Indians also continue to be the top nationality granted visas in the skilled worker category, with 56,042 granted work visas in the past year. As a clear sign of the enduring Indian contribution to the state-funded National Health Service (NHS), medics from the country also represented the highest number of visas (36 per cent) of the total under the tailored Skilled Worker Health and Care visa targeted at medical professionals.
On the back of these statistics and some reports that the UK government plans a crackdown on overseas student numbers to curb soaring immigration to the country, the National Indian Students and Alumni Union UK (NISAU UK) called on the UK government to remove international students from net migration statistics.
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NISAU UK Chair Sanam Arora said: “Students who are in the UK temporarily, should not be counted as ‘migrants’. International students, of which Indians are the biggest cohort, bring a net revenue of £30 billion into the British economy and go back as friends of the UK, furthering ties of trade, culture and diplomacy.
“The UK’s higher education sector is one of our largest exports to the world, and we are hopeful that the government will ensure that there is no arbitrary definition of what counts as a ‘top’ university. What we need is a creative and innovative policy solution that solves for the UK’s skills and labour shortages through its international graduates and there should be targeted intervention to tackle these critical skills shortages whilst ensuring that the UK’s higher education sector thrives.”