However, many from the sector were heartened that Cameron, during the largest-ever British trade mission, offered assurances that there was no cap on student visas. Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, made an indirect comment on the matter as he spoke about the need to forge greater education ties between the two countries.
“Education and science are special areas of India-UK co-operation,” he said. “I have impressed upon the prime minister the need for a visa regime that facilitates greater movement of people between our two countries so this co-operation can be further recharged.”
“We made absolutely clear there is no limit on the number of Indian students that can study in British universities”
Cameron responded: “We discussed today about how we should both be looking at how we reduce the barriers to investment in our countries. Specifically, the British have said we are going to bring in a same-day visa service for Indian business. We made absolutely clear there is no limit on the number of Indian students that can study in British universities, so long as they have a place and an English-language qualification.”
One of Cameron’s other big announcements was major co-investment into a new “industrial corridor” of business and housing between Mumbai and Bangalore.
Other announcements during the trade mission, which includes a number of university Vice Chancellors as well as the UK HE International Unit, include: Scholarships for Indian students to attend the University of Exeter International Summer School in 2013; free access for Indian students to top UK courses via the upcoming Futurelearn MOOC portal.
Spokespeople from business and the education industry welcomed the PM’s support for the sector, at least.
Free access for Indian students to top UK courses via the upcoming Futurelearn MOOC platform
Fergus Brownlee, CEO at Cambridge Education Group, said, “We fully endorse Mr Cameron’s call for stronger ties between the UK and India. Indian students are a vital cog in the UK’s thriving student sector.” He added, “We feel more should be done to encourage the many legitimate foreign students to enrol with UK universities, not only benefiting the standard of their education but that of the UK as a whole.”
Katja Hall, CBI Chief Policy Director, commented, “The value generated by our world class education sector helps the UK compete globally, so it’s great to hear the case for genuine students being set out positively by the Prime Minister.”
One UK TV news station did run a report on the fact that Indian students are being put off by the new visa rules, which make it far more difficult to remain in the UK upon graduation and seek work – as our PIE blogger, Arundati Dandapani, wrote here.