UK Excludes India from Relaxed Student Visa Rulesby Opinion Express June 20, 2018 0 comments
Indian students applying for courses in the UK will continue to face rigorous checks and documentary requirements.
Britain’s decision to exclude India from a new list of students from low-risk immigration countries who would qualify for visas more easily is likely to end up as a self-goal for that country. While Indian students will certainly be discouraged from applying for admission to UK universities — many of which depend on their economic viability on the higher tuition fees charged to foreign students — they have other, equally good options in the US, Canada, Australia, Singapore and the like. Moreover, causing turmoil of this kind will not just be limited to restricting the choices for talented Indian students but is bound to have consequences that would impact Indo-British bilateral ties. It is actually quite astonishing that the Theresa May Government has taken this step which has cast a shadow on the centuries-old relationship between the two countries which received a fresh impetus post-Brexit when Prime Minister Narendra Modi enunciated his vision statement for an enhanced partnership.
What is equally surprising is that the list, which already included countries like the US, Canada, and New Zealand, has now categorised students from countries such as China, Serbia, and Bahrain as low-risk for immigration but not those from India. If indeed post-Brexit immigration control was the aim, London is going to learn to its cost that highly qualified Indian students are far less likely to stay back illegally than others given the tough employment outlook in the UK and, even when they do, are likely to integrate much, much better than the Bahrainis or Chinese as May’s own party has acknowledged in the past. It also defies logic that on the one hand the UK Government deemed it fit to remove the visa cap for Indian doctors and nurses and on the other Indian students — some of whom would definitely be studying medicine — have been dumped along with those from war-torn, undemocratic and absolutist regimes as immigration risks. Of course, the UK has a sovereign right to decide its policies on immigration, overseas education et.al. But it must prepare for a backlash as the move has ruffled feathers not just among the student community but in the Indian establishment as well. There is also no running away from the fact that the UK’s economic situation is pretty fragile with most of the prognosis gloomy. The prolonged, ongoing Brexit negotiations have delivered a further blow to the already cash-strapped economy. Add to this, figures suggest that internationally, students contribute £25 billion a year to the UK’s economy. And a significant proportion of that comes from Indian nationals. Can Britain, therefore, afford to get angsty with Indian students even if some of them are on a one-way ticket to the UK? The treatment meted out to students is likely to have a negative impact among Indian entrepreneurs, highly skilled workers and even some tourists interested in spending money in the UK. The impact of a smart media campaign by, say, the competitive Australian education sector playing on the perceived humiliation of Indian nationals in placing them on a high-risk immigration list would be interesting. The UK’s decision has come at a time when the country is working on charting a post-Brexit future outside the European Union so working towards a convergence of interests and sensitivities with its potential partners, including India which invests more in the UK than in the EU, ought to have been a priority. As it stands, London seems to think it can get away without doing so.
Writer & Courtesy: The Pioneer