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2019 saw largest number of visas granted to Indian students in last 8 years. (iStockphoto)
2019 saw largest number of visas granted to Indian students in last 8 years. (iStockphoto)

93% jump in UK study visas issued to Indians

  • Uptick attributed to 2-year post-study work permit, lower education cost
  • Over 515,000 Indians received tourist visas last year, up 8% compared to the previous year

NEW DELHI : Over 37,500 Indian students joined UK universities in 2019, a 93% jump in the number of study visas granted by Britain, UK Immigration Statistics data showed on Thursday.

The data comes months after the UK announced the introduction of post-study work permit of two years for international students called the Graduate Immigration Route (GIR). Though the details are yet to emerge, the UK government has said that it will be applicable to students who graduate from the summer of 2021, which effectively covers fresh admissions.

A total of 37,540 Indian students received a Tier 4 (study) visa in 2019, as against 19,479 in 2018. Data showed Indians also received 57,199 Tier 2 skilled work visas in 2019 clocking 3% growth from the year-ago.

“This represents the largest number of visas issued to Indian students over the last eight years and continues the strong upward trend in student visa numbers since 2016. Indians are currently the fastest growing nationality for student visas," the British High Commission said.

Naveen Kumar Saini/Mint
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Naveen Kumar Saini/Mint


The skilled work visas granted last year accounts for over 50% of all skilled work visas granted globally—meaning more such visas were granted to Indians than the rest of the world combined, the high commission added.

“It is exciting to see so many Indian students trusting the UK as the destination for their education and furthering their careers. This bodes very well for both countries’ continued focus on realising their knowledge ambitions in a fast-changing world," said Barbara Wickham, director-India, British Council.

Jan Thompson, acting high commissioner to India, said the increase in student numbers is “testament both to the UK’s world leading education system and to the exceptional talents of Indian students. We couldn’t be prouder that the best and brightest continue to pick the UK, making the living bridge between our countries stronger each day."

An Indian expert said the spike was not surprising and 2020 may see this number going up further. “The UK numbers are going up largely because of three reasons—the GIR announced in October 2019 allowing post-study permit from 2021; the relative inexpensiveness of education in the UK compared to the US; and the growing cost of Indian education in courses like management at top colleges here," said Suneet Singh Kochar, chief executive, Fateh Education, a firm that helps students get admission in British universities.

Arjun Gaur, a law student about to join the London School of Economics, said: “While UK masters from top institutes are almost the same as those from top US institutions, the fee structure is 30-40% less in the UK. In the UK, I believe the courses are more research-oriented than the US, where it is application-oriented."

After India, the US (9,240) received the second highest number of Tier 2 work visas. In 2019, UK granted 113,958 tier 2 work visas.

Meanwhile, the UK continues to be a popular destination for Indian holidaymakers. More than 515,000 Indian nationals received visit visas (tourist visas) last year, up 8% compared to the previous year.

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