Prime Minister Encourages Indian Students to Britain
Ahead his visit to India next week, Prime Minister David Cameron has urged Indian students to come to the UK to study. After changes to visa restrictions the number of Indian students in Britain is down a quarter and there are concerns that the government's tough rhetoric on immigration has contributed to this drop.
Speaking to India's Sunrise TV, Mr Cameron emphasised that the changes to the visa system are not as strict as often thought and that Britain is still eager for international students to come to study:
"The fact is today, as we stand, and this is going to be the case going forward, there is no limit on the number of students who can come from India to study at British universities, no limit at all. All you need is a basic English qualification and a place at a British university. And what's more, after you've left a British university, if you can get a graduate-level job there is no limit to the amount of people who can stay and work, or the time that they can stay at work."
It is this final point that has been most hotly contested in recent months, with many critics questioning the wisdom of making it harder for foreign students to stay in the UK to work after they finish their studies. Indeed, it has been this limiting of the Post-Study Work visa that has been a large reason as to why the number of Indian students has fallen so rapidly.
A number of high profile figures in higher education, from London Mayor Boris Johnson, to head of Universities UK Nicola Dandridge, have criticised the language used by politicians surrounding student immigration. And the Prime Minister acknowledged that there had been mistakes, but he was keen to rectify them:
"I think we haven't perhaps communicated this properly. Now we need to take that message out to talented young people in India and say if you want to make that choice, Britain will be incredibly welcoming...The offer we've got - no limit on the numbers, no limit on how you can work in graduate jobs afterwards - I think is a great offer to make."
Whilst it is encouraging that such positive language is starting to replace the previous negative rhetoric, it will be interesting to see if the actions of the government match this new switch in emphasis over the coming months.