United Kingdom: Indian students become the largest group of foreign students

Indian students have for the first-time overtaken Chinese as the largest group of foreign students studying in the UK with a massive 273 percent hike in visas granted over the past few years, according to the country’s official immigration statistics released on Thursday. 

The UK Home Office data collated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that Indians also continue to be the top nationality granted visas in the skilled worker category, with 56,042 granted work visas in the past year. Indian nationals also represented the highest number of visas at 36 percent of the total under the tailored Skilled Worker Health and Care visa targeted at medical professionals, reinforcing Indian contribution to the state-funded National Health Service (NHS). 

“There were 127,731 [study visa] grants to main applicant Indian nationals in the year ending September 2022, an increase of 93,470 (273 percent) compared to 2019 (34,261),” the Home Office said. 

“Chinese nationals were the second most common nationality granted sponsored study visas in the year ending September 2022, with 116,476 visas granted to main applicants, 2 percent fewer than the number seen in 2019 (119,231),” it said. 

The new Graduate Route visa introduced in July last year to allow international students the chance to stay on and work at the end of their degree was also dominated by Indians – accounting for 41 percent of visas granted. 

The special High Potential Individual (HPI) visa, launched in May this year to attract the brightest graduates from the world’s top universities around the world to work in the UK, also saw a 14 percent grant to Indian nationals despite no Indian university being on the approved set of top global universities. 

The statistics show that study visas for Indian, Nigerian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals, are now all more than three times higher than they were in 2019, seen as a major factor behind the UK’s immigration figures hitting record levels over the past year. 

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