Dark and a sunny side for Indian students in Britain

Friday’s Brexit vote had a dark and a sunny side for Indian students. There is concern that the ‘Leave’ referendum — a vote against migration — will no longer make the UK a gateway to Europe for them.

But on the other hand, getting a UK degree will be considerably easier on the pocket after the pound crashed. There is, of course, the statistical fact that Indians studying in the UK has fallen sharply since the British government brought in a policy denying them post-study work visas. Of the top five education destinations — the US, Australia, Canada, the UK and New Zealand — student growth in the UK was a measly 0.25 per cent while for the US and New Zealand it was 10 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively.

“We have seen a decline in the number of students going to the UK after the government there imposed visa curbs,” said M Hariprasad, head of treasury at Centrum Direct. He said the demand for foreign currency was now more from students going to Australia and other English speaking countries.

“The depreciating pound sterling means lower fees for Indians and parents who pay by converting the rupee to pound for higher education in the UK,” said Ajay Bohora, MD and CEO of Credila Financial Services. He said students might take time for a better assessment of the situation before taking a decision to study there.

According to Bohora, around 4.3 per cent of students travelling overseas for education funded by Credila choose the UK. The preferred courses in the UK are MBA, MSc or a bachelors or masters in finance.

Avit Mehta, a Delhi boy waiting to join the University of Manchester for an undergraduate course in aeronautical sciences, said Brexit had left him concerned about how a foreign student would be treated. “I was already concerned about the bullying of Indian students in universities in the UK. Brexit makes me even more concerned about my well-being there,” he said.

Aman Parekh, who is also headed for the same university, said students would face a climate of uncertainty. “What new economic and immigration policies will be adopted by the government after David Cameron steps down,” he wondered.

Educational consultants said in the current scenario, the cost factor was a clear silver lining. “As the pound comes crashing down, it will make parents and students happy,” said Naveen Chopra, chairman of the Chopras.

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