COVID-19 and Brexit have impacted the UK higher education sector in many ways, including the global student intake. However, as the country prepares to gradually revert to the pre-pandemic times, the number of international students is also picking up. This is reflected through the fact that around 605,130 foreign students enrolled in the 2020-21 academic year, which is above its planned 600,000 target to be achieved by 2030 as per its International Education Strategy.
- Around 605,130 foreign students enrolled in 2020-21 in the UK, which is above its planned target to be achieved by 2030
- Measures like giving student hardship funding and launching immigration flexibilities have impacted foreign student intake
- Indian students represented 19% of all non-EU enrolments in 2020-21, meaning India is one of the key growth drivers for the UK
While Brexit has also contributed to this, certain steps by the UK government have also fuelled the increase in numbers. The same visa rules in UK now apply to EU students and international students and so Indian students are now in the same position as EU students with UK immigration.
Will UK Take In More Foreign Students?
The 2020-21 student data shows an overall increase in international first year students. The UK promises world-class education and globally-renowned and reputed universities which attract international students. To add to this, the response to the challenges during the pandemic which include providing financial assistance, giving visa flexibilities, and other means of support to international students means more students will be looking to study in UK.
The Graduate route, launched in 2021, which allows eligible students to stay in the UK to work, or find work for 2 years after their degree has worked well for students and institutions alike. With a focus on student safety, flexibility and the choice to start or resume studies have been other factors which have pulled students to the country. Measures like giving student hardship funding and launching immigration flexibilities to help students who are unable to fulfil immigration requirements due to the pandemic have also had an impact. These steps show that universities in UK are still looking to get more students to their campuses.
How Indian Students Can Benefit
Students who complete their bachelor’s or master’s in UK are eligible to apply for the two-year visa without any restrictions such as a minimum salary or sponsorship by an employer. This period will enable students to get valuable work experience and allow students to transition to the skilled worker visas. There is a clear demand to study bachelors in UK due to apprenticeships, rising significantly during the pandemic.
There has been a noteworthy rise of 67,660 Indian students over 5 years, especially in 2019-20 and 2020-21. Indian students represented 19% of all non-EU enrolments in 2020-21, meaning India is one of the key growth drivers for the UK and it will continue to welcome students from here.