London Mayor Boris Johnson is aiming to tackle the steep fall in Indian student numbers coming to the capital by suggesting new UK visas to allow students to remain in the country to work after completing their courses.
The recent removal of the post-study work visa, which means that international students now have to return to their home countries on completion of their course and apply for a fresh UK visa to return to work, is seen as a key factor in the reduction of Indian students opting for British universities.
But Mr Johnson is now set to campaign for the introduction of a Commonwealth work visa and a separate visa for graduates in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths.
His plan is to initially offer the Commonwealth visa to Indian students, whose numbers in London have halved in the past five years. The scheme would allow them to remain in the UK to work for two years after completion of their university course. If successful, the programme could then be rolled out to other Commonwealth countries, The Pie reported.
Mr Johnson said: “Current restrictions on overseas students are putting off the brightest Indian minds from coming to study in the capital. And it is crazy that we should be losing India’s top talent and global leaders of the future to countries like Australia and the United States.”
Similarly, a work visa targeted at STEM subject graduates would also allow students to remain in the UK for two years to work after graduation. The Mayor’s office said such a visa would also be popular with Indian students, because many of them opt for STEM subjects at UK universities.
Mr Johnson’s office said such a move would also benefit the UK economy by addressing skills shortages in areas such as life sciences, engineering and technology.