India Likely to Overtake China in Number of International Students in UK

India is expected to overtake China as the main source of international students recruited to UK universities within a few years. Universities in the UK expect a surge in applications from Indian students, particularly for master’s programs, following the mutual recognition of qualifications agreement signed on 21 July 2022.

India may overtake China as UK’s main source of International students

The total number is significantly higher than the 52,545 Indian students studying in UK in 2019-20, indicating that the gap narrowing between the students from India and China. In 2020-21, the UK welcomed 84,555 Indian students, with 73% coming for master’s courses, the majority of which were one-year duration China continues to send most of its students to the UK, but the rate of growth is slowing: 139,130 in 2019-20, and143,820 the previous year.

This year, India may surpass China in terms of the number of international students in the United Kingdom. According to the most recent Home Office figures, nearly 100,000 study visas were granted to Indian nationals last year, nearly doubling the number granted the previous year and only about 20,000 fewer than those granted to students of China.

Reasons for Increasing Indian Students Studying in UK

The growth in students from India is likely to have a major effect on the shape of UK higher education too. The probable reasons behind the growing numbers of Indian students in UK are:

  • The reintroduction of post-study work visas,
  • A planned UK government strategy to target the Indian market
  • The agreement of understanding between India and the United Kingdom
  • The change in student flows because of the COVID pandemic.

According to Janet Ilieva, founder of international mobility research consultancy Education Insight, much of the growth in global demand for courses in the UK is coming from countries such as India, where the majority of students are interested in a one-year taught master’s

Post-study Work Visas Boosted Numbers

The UK government announced in 2019 that it would reintroduce the post-study work visa route for international students graduating on or after July 1, 2021. Since then, the number of students from India and other countries applying to study at British universities has skyrocketed. The graduate visa route allows international graduates to stay in the UK for two years to find suitable work, and three years for Ph.D. graduates.

The Agreement

The memorandum of understanding between India and the UK is part of the UK-India Enhanced Trade Partnership agreed upon by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year. It covers A-levels and their equivalents, and undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, which should now be recognized in India.

According to the agreement, it will allow Indian students who graduate from universities in UK to apply for postgraduate qualifications or start government careers that require university qualifications when they return home.

It is also expected to increase the potential of UK nationals studying in India, allowing them to broaden their academic and educational horizons. It will allow institutions to develop courses that can be offered in both countries.

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