Indian students will find an “open and welcoming” reception at British universities, contrary to “misperceptions” about the UK visa system, the Imperial College London president has written in the Times of India.
Alice Gast’s opinion piece in India’s most-read English language newspaper follows widespread concern among British university leaders about an overall decline in Indian students coming to the UK.
The UK abolition of post-study work visas in 2012 is seen as a key factor. Imperial is one of four universities selected by the government for a pilot scheme easing visa requirements for master’s applicants.
“Why are there not more Indians studying in the UK? I fear that the reason may lie more with misperceptions about the visa system and our openness than with actual policy,” wrote Professor Gast in an opinion piece that appeared on page one of the Times of India education supplement.
She continued: “In fact, British universities remain open and welcoming to students from India. At Imperial, the number of Indian students is on the rise.” Referring to the master’s pilot, Professor Gast said: “At a handful of universities - Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and Bath - the student visa process has become more streamlined for international students who get admission in one-year masters degrees.
“And they can stay in the UK for six months after their course ends. Many of our Indian students face no problem staying on to work in the UK, if they choose to.”
Professor Gast also said that the UK visa system “is by no means perfect, and many of us are campaigning to improve it”.
She concluded: “Opinion polls show overwhelming public support for international students. The opportunities are there for Indian students to access Britain’s best universities. Let’s not allow misperceptions to get in the way.”