The number of Indian and Pakistani students in British universities has declined heavily since last year, due to the government's immigration crackdown. The number of Indian applicants is down 23.5 percent, while the number of students from Pakistan fell 13.4 percent.
Experts believe that the drop is mainly due to two reasons. One, there is a growing perception among students that Britain is no longer a welcoming place. Two, the recent visa rules does't allow students work during or after their studies, not even part time.
It's not just students from India and Pakistan, even the number of non-EU students joining British universities for postgraduate courses has declined for the first time since 1996, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. The director of education and society at British Council, Jo Beall, said a slight decline in growth rate was expected, but actual reduction in the number of students is a real concern. International students occupy more than 50 percent of the seats for research and postgraduate courses in British universities.
Overall, the number of students coming from non-EU increased by just 1.5 percent, primarily because of 16.9 percent jump in the number of Chinese students. Mr. Beall said the statistics proves that Britain has begun to lose out in a highly competitive market.
Foreign students bring 8 billion pounds a year to the British economy. And the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills estimates the figure will rise to 16.8 billion euros by 2025.
Last month, home secretary Theresa May announced that the consular staff will interview over 100,000 foreign students to prevent the entry of bogus applicants in the country. A few days ago, the CEO of Universities UK, Nicola Dandridge, said the government should bring stability to the immigration policy, and they shouldn't create inappropriate barriers for international students.
Students who want to work after their studies to pay off loans or gain experience don't even consider Britain. Jo Beall said, "Playing to a British audience [on immigration] has a huge impact on countries like India and Pakistan which have historical relationships with us, [with] large middle classes that are English speaking and a free, English speaking press. So when these things are said here they get reported over there, and it has a very damaging impact on how we are perceived by potential students."