Indian students increasingly choosing alternatives over UK amid Brexit and immigration restrictions


The number of Indian students applying to study in the UK has dropped by around 45,000 over the past two to three years, according to UK universities and recruitment agencies.

India is one of the world’s leading source countries for international students, second only to China, and while the UK has traditionally been one of the more popular study destinations for Indian students, this trend has seen a downturn over the past few years.

Last year, some universities have even seen up to a 35 percent drop in students from India, reported the Economic Times.


Experts have pinned the UK government’s decision to scrap the post-study work visa back in 2012 as one of the catalysts behind the decline.

Since then, a push for immigration reforms, including a reduction in net migration figures, have led to an atmosphere where foreign students feel unwelcome.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who rose to the position following the Brexit vote, considers international students as immigrants, despite the fact that a recent poll of over 2,000 British adults showed that three-quarters of respondents do not view international students as such.

The poll also found that the overwhelming majority of respondents (91 percent) think that international students should be able to stay and work in the UK for a period of time after they have completed their studies.


Prior to the implementation of stricter visa policies, Indian students wished to study in the UK in order to find work to help pay off the student debt accrued to study overseas.

Since the post-study visa was given the axe, however, foreign students only have four months to secure a job earning an annual income of at least £20,800.

Naveen Chopra, co-founder of The Chopras, a New Delhi-based study abroad consultant agency, told the daily that students from middle-income families are discouraged from studying in the UK, as it has become more difficult to get jobs and pay back their student loans.


“Those with limited means are no longer applying because of strict visa policies. Once a course is over, students want to work in the UK to be able to pay off education loans and that isn’t happening now. Brexit is also a factor in this decline,” he said.

The agency is now sending about half the students it used to two years ago, the number falling from 4,000 in 2014 to around 1,700.

Rahul Choudaha, CEO of DrEducation, a US-based global higher education research firm, told the Hindustan Times that the weakened Pound Sterling post-Brexit has also put off prospective students.

“Decline in work opportunities, along with an uncertain economy and stricter immigration policies, will make the UK less attractive for many Indian students,” he said.

Other European countries have gained from the UK’s loss, though, with Germany emerging as an increasingly popular study destination, thanks to its low tuition fees. China has also seen a rise in students from India, particularly those studying medicine, due to the shortage of places at India’s medical schools.


However, there are those who predict that UK universities will try to attract more Indian students by increasing incentives.

Sanjeev Roy, a higher education expert, told the paper: “After Brexit, UK universities and other funding agencies, such as the British Council, are likely to get aggressive in terms of offering scholarships, full or partial, to attract Indian students.

“The number of UK varsities coming to India to woo students has gone up. Their education policy will focus on welcoming students from all over and will have to think out-of-the-box to get in more Indian students,” he said.

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