New visa norms to be implemented from April 2012 has closed the post-study route that allowed students access to jobs, two years after completing their course.
Natasha Gupta (name changed) is in the last year of her graduation. She plans to pursue her post-graduation in the UK from the University of Sheffield and she has started preparing for it, beginning with advice from counsellors. Despite the student visa norms being made more stringent, she still wants to study in the UK to get an "exposure to learn new things".
In April this year, the UK government announced a host of changes in the criteria for student visas. Experts suggest that this would not impact Indian students who still choose to study there.
Accordingly, the Tier-1, or post-study route will be closed from April 2012. This had provided students an access to the job market for two years after completing a course and allowed them to take up low-skilled jobs. As per the new rule, only graduates having an offer for a skilled job, with a minimum salary of £20,000 a year from a sponsoring employer, will be able to stay on and work, provided the job matches a student's skills. The company, where students would work, also has to be registered to accept overseas workers in the Tier-2 point system.
Another requirement is a higher level of English language at the B2 level, over that in B1. There will also be mandatory accreditation to statutory education inspection bodies and to become highly trusted sponsors by 2012, for the all the UK education institutions wanting to be sponsors.
Experts say that this will have little impact on a student deciding to opt for the UK as their education destination. Many like Natasha have already started preparations.
A UK counsellor from the counselling company Edwise International told Moneylife, "These changes won't have much impact on a student's decision. For, there are other ways through which students can go, like the Tier-2 system. Plus, students from the metros anyway fare well in the English test. A lot of students who want to study in the UK are still coming for counselling," he said.
Another counsellor from a Mumbai-based agency said, "Many of the students want to study and come back. They look for new avenues and exposure, so these changes won't have any impact on the outflow. The UK will remain a popular education destination followed by the US and Canada."
However, there are some who feel that there would be some fall in demand. Richard Lasrado, director, Education Abroad Counselling, says, "There would be a 25%-30% drop in applications. But considering the student outflow to the UK, which is high, the fall in demand won't be much. Such changes in visa norms will mainly affect mid-size universities like Middlesex University and the University of Southampton. But a lot of bright students are the ones to get visas; obviously they choose top class universities and will be able to get a required job."