UK student visa issues must be sorted: Indian envoy YK Sinha

London: India has expressed concern over the massive drop in Indian students coming to study in the UK and called for sorting out of visa issues. Indian High Commissioner to the UK Y K Sinha, who took charge of his post in London last month, highlighted the sharp contrast between rising Indian student numbers in countries like the US and Australia and even across Europe.

“In the field of education we have a bit of a problem because the number of Indian students (in the UK) that was 40,000 or so in 2010 has dropped to 19,000. Compared to figures for the US, which had 104,000 Indian students in 2010 and today they have 166,000,” Sinha said in his address at a media gathering at India House in London last evening.

“Australia had 19,000 in 2010 and has 40,000 today. Obviously, there is something going wrong here because the UK has always been the first preference for Indian students,” he said.

“We need to see how we can ensure that the UK attracts good students from India because Indian students are doing extremely well everywhere they go,” Sinha asserted.

Even countries like Germany have over 10,000 Indian students and France has 5,000. They are actively going into campuses in India to attract students, he said.

“I think the UK universities are doing a great job but I think we need to sort out the issues regarding visas. It is an area where both governments are talking to each other,” Sinha said.

He also flagged the issue of movement of professionals as another area of concern because the UK remains the “first port of call in Europe” for Indians due to a shared history and other commonalities.

“In the field of IT, our professionals are renowned the world over. It is very important that our IT professionals can come and work and go back. They will contribute immensely not only to the local economy but also the global economy, which is what they are doing in Silicon Valley and the rest of the world,” the Indian High Commissioner said.

Stressing on the need for both countries to continue to engage in a manner that will be a “win-win situation” for India and the UK, he highlighted the visit of British Prime Minister Theresa May to India last November as “particularly significant” in having further enhanced the “very substantial economic engagement”.

“We have a very good economic engagement with the UK, with trade in goods about 14 billion dollars and another 5 billion dollars in services.

But besides that, the UK is a very important in terms of investment scope, being the largest G20 investor into India and 800 Indian companies operate here, bringing about a billion plus in taxes to the Exchequer and employing over a 100,000 people,” Sinha said.