UK fair sparks melee in India

March 8, 2002

Indian enthusiasm for British higher education appears to be at fever pitch. Police were called in to control crowds at this month's education fairs.

Security guards at a fair in Chennai (formerly Madras), summoned police when about 4,500 people tried to get into a hotel venue that could accommodate only 2,000.

John Nance, head of education for the British Council in India, said about 1,000 people who could not get in began to demand entry. "For a while, the enthusiasm got out of control and the crowd could not be managed," he said.

The council said the huge response is the result of several factors, including its Education UK brand promotion to support the prime minister's campaign to attract more overseas students, and his visit to India last month.

Applications for UK student visas have risen by half in the past year to 7,150. The British Council expects to hit its target of 9,000 recruits by 2004-05 a year early.

Indian applications for places at institutions in the United States have fallen since the September 11 terrorist attacks. In Australia, tighter visa rules have slowed recruitment.

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