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UK immigration policy could deter many students

An interesting new poll commissioned by think tank IPPR suggests that not being able to stay and work after completing studies in the UK is becoming a real issue for overseas students.

The poll by Ipsos MORI questioned 500 young people in India looking to study abroad and found that 90% say the UK’s restriction on their ability to work after studying could put off ‘most’ or ‘some’ students.

More than half (54%) of prospective students polled in India said being able to work after study was ‘extremely important’, but the UK’s post-study work visa was scrapped last year.

Foreign students from outside the EU who want to work in the UK after they graduate have to make a separate visa application and qualify for employment through the UK’s strict points-based system.

The number of Indian students studying at UK universities fell by nearly a quarter last year according to new IPPR analysis. Numbers dropped to under 30,000 compared with almost 40,000 the previous year.

The polling shows that 80% of the prospective Indian students surveyed see the UK as a favourable destination and 70% were considering coming here to study. But one in three respondents who had applied to study in the UK found the application process difficult, compared to just one in eight who applied to study in Australia.

India sends the second highest number of students to study abroad after China. The share of Indian students worldwide has doubled since 2000. The UK is the second most popular destination for these students, with a market share of 13% in 2011.

Alice Sachrajda, researcher at IPPR, said:

“We cannot continue to rely on the world class reputation of the UK’s universities and colleges alone to attract foreign students. Other English-speaking countries such as Australia have an easier application process and more attractive rights to work after completing studies, and we will continue to lose students to our competitors unless we make urgent changes.”

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