UK university applications from India on the increase

By Aditi Khanna for The Outlook

London, Feb 6: The number of Indian students applying for courses at UK universities this year registered a hike of 36 per cent over the previous year, according to official figures released yesterday.
A total of 4,470 students from India applied to take on undergraduate courses set to begin at universities across Britain later this year, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the UK's centralised university application system, said.
While the figures do not reflect the actual number of Indian students who will be successful in their applications to be able to join these courses, they are seen to reflect an interest in the UK as a destination for higher education.
The latest UCAS figures also reveal the country's wider appeal, with applications from within the European Union (EU) also registering a hike this year.
"The UK's universities are highly popular with EU and international students because of the quality of the teaching and experience they offer.
There are probably several factors influencing the increasing numbers of applicants from the EU and beyond. For example, the weaker pound makes the UK a cost-effective place to study," said Helen Thorne, UCAS Director of External Relations.
Overall, more than 100,000 EU and overseas candidates applied to take up places at UK universities from autumn this year. The number of EU applicants increased by 3.4 per cent to 43,510, and the number of international applicants increased by 11 per cent to a record of 58,450.
China maintained its lead over India in terms of numbers with 11,920 applications, but this reflected only a 21 per cent hike over the previous year compared to India's 36 per cent.
The figures come amidst an ongoing debate within the UK government over the removal of students from annual migration targets, which critics believe prevents higher fee-paying foreign students from accessing the UK's education system.
British Prime Minister Theresa May indicated a softening of her tough stance on the issue by admitting that students do not have a long-term impact on migration figures.
"There was a lot of abuse taking place in colleges – something like 900 colleges can no longer bring in overseas students because all too often they were being brought in to work, rather than for education," she said.
"Once you see that abuse out of the system, students coming in for the period of their education and then leaving actually wash through the numbers – they don't have a long- term impact on the numbers," she said during her visit to China last week.
Indian ministers and diplomats have also repeatedly highlighted the need for a more welcoming immigration regime for Indian students. 
"The treating of students as immigrants leads to negative perceptions in India of the UK’s restrictive visa regime... There is no justification for seeking to reduce numbers of international students," said Lord Karan Bilimoria, Indian- origin entrepreneur and Chancellor of University of Birmingham. Courtesy The Outlook