Indians overtake Chinese as largest group of foreign students in UK

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UK Home Office data collated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that Indians also continue to be the top nationality to obtain visas under the skilled worker category, with 56,042 work visas granted over the past year. Indian nationals also accounted for the highest number of visas at 36% of the total under the Tailored Skilled Worker Health and Care Visa for healthcare professionals, bolstering India’s contribution to the National Health Service (NHS) funded by the state.

“There were 127,731 [study visa] grants to Indian nationals principal applicants in the year ending September 2022, an increase of 93,470 (273%) from 2019 (34,261),” the Home Office said.

“Chinese nationals were the second most common nationality to obtain sponsored study visas in the year ending September 2022, with 116,476 visas granted to primary applicants, down 2% from 2019 ( 119,231),” he said.

The new Graduate Route visa introduced in July last year to allow international students to stay and work after completing their degree was also dominated by Indians – accounting for 41% of visas granted.

The special High Potential Individual (HPI) visa, launched in May this year to attract the brightest graduates from the world’s top universities to work in the UK, also saw a 14 per cent grant to Indian nationals although none Indian university be on the approved set of best global universities.

Statistics show that study visas for Indian, Nigerian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals are now more than three times higher than they were in 2019, seen as a major factor behind immigration figures in the country. United Kingdom which have reached record levels over the past year.

Aggregate ONS data shows net migration to the UK rose from 173,000 in June 2021 to 504,000 in June 2022, an increase of 331,000 after Brexit.

The end of lockdown restrictions, the first full period of statistics after the transition since Brexit, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the resettlement of Afghans and a new visa route for British nationals from Hong Kong (Overseas) would all have contributed to the “long-lasting record levels of immigration”.

“A series of global events impacted international migration patterns in the 12 months to June 2022. Taken together, they were unprecedented,” said Jay Lindop, director of the Center for International Migration at the NSO.

“Migration from non-EU countries, especially students, is driving this increase. With the lifting of travel restrictions in 2021, more students have arrived in the UK after studying remotely during the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.

“However, there has also been a sharp increase in the number of people migrating for a range of other reasons. This includes people arriving for humanitarian protections, such as those coming from Ukraine, as well as for family reasons,” said she added.

“These many independent factors contributing to migration at present mean that it is too early to say whether this image will be maintained,” Lindop added.

The data will concern the Conservative Party-led government, which has pledged in a manifesto to reduce migration ‘comprehensively’, which has been reiterated in recent weeks and months by UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman .

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