UK visas for overseas students 'still in demand'

02 Feb 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Students from abroad appear to still be interested in applying for UK visas to study in Britain.

The latest figures from UCAS show that there has been an increase of 9.9 per cent in the number of students applying to British universities from China. The number of Indian applicants rose by even more, with a 19.3 per cent increase clocked up by the university applications group.

Mark Harper, UK immigration minister, commented on the data: "The increase in non-EEA student applications is further proof that the UK remains open to the brightest and the best and international students.

"In particular, numbers from India and China have seen big increases. This shows that despite rhetoric to the contrary, students continue to want to come to the UK to study at our world class universities."

The government's changes to the student immigration route have been a subject of debate since they came in to effect with many worrying that limiting the options open to students in terms of employment would discourage many from moving to Britain.

However, Mr Harper insisted that the changes to the UK visa regulations focused only on cutting down on abuse: "We have tackled abuse of the student route head on - without affecting genuine students. By protecting the reputation of the British education system will we be able to compete in a global race."

The publication of the figures has also reignited calls for students to be removed from the government's migration targets. Chairmen of five parliamentary committees have written to prime minister David Cameron to ask him to take "further action to encourage international university students to study in the UK".

They added: "Doing so has the potential to support economic growth in the immediate and longer term, supporting jobs in university towns and increasing export earnings.

"International students who study in the UK also build relationships which last over time, laying the foundations for future business opportunities in emerging economies, and supporting our foreign policy objectives."