Leap in Indian applications to UK universities

The number of Indian students applying to British universities this year has seen a 30 per cent jump on the 2020 total.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) said applications, which closed on June 30, totalled 9,930, compared to the 7,640 received last year.Vivienne Stern, director of Universities UK International (UUKI) attributed the increase to the “incredible resilience” displayed by the UK university community during the pandemic.“It is really encouraging to see Indian students continue to make plans to study in the UK and we look forward to welcoming students safely. Thanks to UK government policy and the support structures that UK universities have put in place, we can prepare for the start of term with the flexibility students will welcome,” she said.
The number of Indian students studying in the UK has progressively grown over the past five years and, in the 2019-20 academic year, totalled 55,465, representing the second largest overseas group studying in Britain after the Chinese.And while current pandemic restrictions mean that travel from India is banned, international students with valid UK visas are exempt and are only required to quarantine for 10 days, when they will be eligible for free Covid-19 vaccinations.
However, as quarantine facilities are limited, it is feared that not all the new Indian intake will be able to arrive in time for the start of the academic year in September. Students unable to arrive by then will have until April 6 2022 to put in an appearance and UUKI is advising students holding an offer for a UK university this year to contact their chosen university to find out more about arrivals and plans for September.Other pandemic concessions offered by the UK to student visa holders include the extension of eligibility period for post-study work visa. Students who started their studies remotely as early as autumn last year have until September 27 to enter the UK and still qualify for the new Graduate Route, which will allow overseas students to stay to work in the UK after completing their degrees for two or three years, depending on the nature of their course.Clare Merchant, chief executive of UCAS, said: “Universities are ready to welcome more students onto courses this autumn and have worked hard to be flexible, enabling students to progress to their next level of study.“Though not every student will find themselves in the position they had initially hoped for, they still have a wide range of options, including undergraduate courses and apprenticeships.”The situation in the UK is in marked contrast to that in Australia, which has seen a drop of more than 80 per cent in the number of new Indian students in the second half of 2020, as a result of strict travel restrictions because of the pandemic.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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