Indian diaspora-led students’ organisation demanded on Friday that international students be excluded from the UK’s overall immigration figures, in response to unverified allegations that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak may be mulling a crackdown on foreigners who have been given study permits.
After the nation’s net migration stats reached historic highs, Sunak is reportedly considering a crackdown on foreign students who bring families and enrol in inferior UK colleges to pursue low-quality degrees, allegedly.
According to Downing Street, “all options” are on the table to reduce the overall number of migrants. Any attempt to arbitrarily rank universities, according to the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK, would ultimately be detrimental in its fight for simplified conditions for Indian students studying in the UK.
NISAU UK Chair Sanam Arora said, “Students who are in the UK temporarily, should not be counted as migrants”.
She stated, “International students, of which Indians are the biggest cohort, bring a net revenue of GBP 30 billion into the British economy and go back as friends of the UK, furthering ties of trade, culture, and diplomacy. The UK’s higher education sector is one of our largest exports to the world, and we are hopeful that the government will ensure that there is no arbitrary definition of what counts as a ‘top’ university”.
The group urged for a “creative and innovative policy solution” that would use international graduates to meet the UK’s labour and skill shortages.
Over 140 UK universities are represented by Universities UK Overseas (UUKi), which has warned against any policy changes that could reduce the number of international students as it would be a potential act of self-harm and put an additional financial strain on universities.
UUKi Chief Executive Vivienne Stern said, “Cutting international student numbers would run directly counter to the UK government’s strategy to welcome more students from around the world”.
She further noted, “International students make an enormous cultural and financial contribution to the UK. They help make our campuses and cities the vibrant, thought-provoking places they are known for being. They sustain jobs in towns and cities up and down the country”.
“Beyond this, the financial contribution they make has been very significant for UK universities. Limiting international students would be an act of self-harm that would damage many parts of the UK,” she added.
The concerns are a result of this week’s release of new Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showing that net migration to the UK increased by 331,000 after Brexit, from 173,000 in the year ending in June 2021 to 504,000 in the following year.
International students had a significant role in this increase, with Indian students for the first time surpassing Chinese students as the largest cohort of student visas.
She previously voiced concerns about international students bringing in dependent family members who “piggyback” on a student visa, and it is believed that she is currently considering solutions to the problem.
According to information from the 2021 Census that was released on Tuesday, people of Indian descent make up the largest non-White ethnic group in the United Kingdom.
Indians made up 1.864 million of the Asian ethnicity choices made by UK citizens. As a result, the proportion of people of Indian descent in the UK has increased from 2.5% (1.412 million) in the 2011 census to 3.1% (3.1% of the overall population).
The findings indicated that those of Indian descent made up the largest group among Asians. With 1.587 milion residents, people of Pakistani descent came in second in Britain. Since the 2011 census, their population has grown by 0.7%.