UK student visa
A passenger wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), including a face mask and a full face visor as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, pushes his luggage after arriving at Manchester Airport in northern England. Source: Oli Scarff/AFP

Indian students are hopeful to obtain their UK student visa in time for the September intake, according to new data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). British universities received 9,930 applications from Indians this year — a 30% increase from the 7,640 applications received last year. Applications for the UK student visa closed on June 30.

This comes despite the pandemic travel restrictions currently in place, which would require each returning Indian student to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. Most travellers who have been in India 10 days prior are currently not allowed to enter the UK. However, international students with valid UK student visas are exempted.

As quarantine facilities are limited, not all Indian students may make it back in time for the September 2021 semester. There is a silver lining, though: those who do make it back are eligible to receive free COVID-19 vaccines as they prepare to resume student life in the UK.

UK student visa

International students arriving from India must quarantine for 10 days before returning to campus. Source: Ben Fathers/AFP

Indian students welcome back with UK student visa and quarantine

Universities UK International (UUKI) Director Vivienne Stern attributed this increased interest to the “incredible resilience” displayed by the UK university community this year. “It is really encouraging to see Indian students continue to make plans to study in the UK and we look forward to welcoming students safely. Thanks to UK government policy and the support structures that UK universities have put in place, we can prepare for the start of term with the flexibility students will welcome,” she said.

Figures from Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) showed that there had been a notable increase of 38,580 Indian students over five years — 2015-16 to 2019-20 — at UK universities. There were 55,465 Indian students at UK higher education institutions in 2019-20. According to The Telegraph, these students contribute up to 60,000 pounds a year to the UK economy through their fees alone.

UK student visa

International students who arrive in the UK for the autumn semester are eligible for free vaccinations. Source: Fred Tanneau/AFP

“Universities are ready to welcome more students onto courses this autumn and have worked hard to be flexible, enabling students to progress to their next level of study,” said UCAS Chief Executive Clare Merchant. “Though not every student will find themselves in the position they had initially hoped for, they still have a wide range of options, including undergraduate courses and apprenticeships.”

Among the other pandemic concessions afforded to UK student visa holders are the extension of eligibility period for post-study work visa. Students who start their studies remotely as early as autumn 2020 have until September 27 to enter the UK and still qualify for the Graduate Route.

The UK Department for Education (DfE) identifies India as one of the countries where the UK will urgently “help increase the value of education exports and international student numbers.” As such, it pledges to establish more exchange partnerships with India in line with its latest International Education Strategy — a hope that is mirrored in India’s New Educational Policy.