Indian students have become the largest group of foreign students studying in the UK. They have overtaken the Chinese with a massive 273 percent increase in visas issued in recent years, the country’s official immigration statistics said Thursday.
UK Home Office data collected by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that Indians also continue to be the leading nationality for obtaining skilled worker visas, with 56,042 work visas granted in the past year . Indian nationals also accounted for the largest number of visas at 36 percent of the total under the bespoke Skilled Worker Health and Care visa aimed at medical professionals, bolstering India’s contribution to the state-funded National Health Service (NHS).
“There were 127,731 (study visa) scholarships to main Indian applicants in the year ending September 2022, an increase of 93,470 (273 per cent) compared to 2019 (34,261),” the Home Office said.
“Chinese nationals were the second most common nationality to receive sponsored study visas in the year ending September 2022, with 1,16,476 visas granted to principal applicants, down 2 percent from the number in 2019 (1,19,231),” it said.
The new Graduate Route visa introduced last July to give international students the chance to stay and work at the end of their studies was also dominated by Indians – accounting for 41 percent of visas issued.
The special High Potential Individual (HPI) visa, launched in May this year to attract the brightest graduates from the world’s top universities around the world to work in the UK, also saw a 14 per cent grant for Indian nationals despite not having an Indian university. the approved set of top global universities.
The statistics show that study visas for Indian, Nigerian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals are all now more than three times what they were in 2019, seen as a major factor behind UK immigration numbers reaching record levels over the past year.
The overall ONS data shows that net migration to the UK increased from 1.73,000 in the year to June 2021 to 5,04,000 in the year to June 2022 – an increase of 3,31,000 after Brexit.
The end of lockdown restrictions, the first full period of post-transition statistics since Brexit, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the resettlement of Afghans and a new visa route for British nationals from Hong Kong (overseas) are all believed to have contributed to the “record levels of long-term immigration”.
“A series of world events has influenced international migration patterns in the 12 months to June 2022. Taken together, these were unprecedented,” said Jay Lindop, director of the Center for International Migration at the ONS.
“Migration from non-EU countries, especially students, is the driving force behind this increase. With the lifting of travel restrictions in 2021, more students came to the UK after studying remotely during the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.
“However, there is also a large increase in the number of people migrating for a number of other reasons. This also applies to people arriving for humanitarian protection, such as those coming from Ukraine, but also for family reasons,” she added.
“These many factors independently contributing to migration at the moment mean it is too early to say whether this picture will persist,” added Lindop.
The data will be a concern for the Conservative Party-led government, which has pledged a manifesto to reduce migration “in general”, something British Home Secretary Suella Braverman has reiterated in recent weeks and months.