A number of disparate factors have colleges and universities in the United Kingdom worried. While their reputations remain rock solid – the home of Oxford and Cambridge continues to be synonymous with educational excellence in the minds of many – one of its largest cohorts of international students is nevertheless looking elsewhere for its higher education needs. Indian student recruitment in the UK is increasingly facing problems where they are avoiding the birthplace of Chaucer and Shakespeare in favor of other destinations due to a number of distinct factors.
The Declining Rupee
Thanks to a struggling economy on the subcontinent, at one point over the crucial summer planning period the Indian Rupee had fallen as much as 20% against the British Pound. Though such variability is not uncommon, in the short-term such large swings make it difficult for international students to plan their study abroad opportunities and in the long-term make such experiences drastically more expensive. At the same time, the relative decline of the rupee was greater against the pound than either the US or Australian dollars. This makes those destinations economically more attractive than the UK and might mean that the UK could lose students to these already-popular competitors.
Economic issues aside, policy changes regarding student visa regulations and international student employment options are also undermining recruitment efforts. In fact, one analyst attributes the drop in Indian student enrollment – which saw a 24% decline in the 2011-12 academic year – not to the rupee itself but to changes in how the UK handles student visa procedures. Student visa regulations are now more stringent than before and, at the same time, they deny graduates the once-automatic right to work in the country after they graduate.
All Together Now
Though Indian international students can still find work if a company sponsors them, this more direct method obviously presents a greater challenge to recent graduates. Thus Indian students are looking at higher costs and longer odds – and may be beginning to look elsewhere as a result.