UK has traditionally been one of the most sought-after destinations for Indian students keen to pursue higher education. However, the recent changes in the UK government’s visa rules have caused concern among students.

According to Kaustav Mazumdar, chief executive and founder-member of the ILS Network, the changes in the visa and work rules should not be a deterrent for students wanting to study in the UK.

The changes, in fact, are designed to ensure that those coming as students do so primarily to study and not to work, are suitably qualified to do so, and protected from the activities of some fraudulent colleges. UK continues to welcome all Indian students who wish to study at UK education institutions and meet the new criteria. The new visa rules are in place to support them.

NEW REFORMS

The reforms have been introduced gradually in 2011 and 2012. The last set of changes were introduced on April 6 this year. This included a change to the arrangements under which many international students may remain in the UK and work after their studies.

Though the Tier 1 post-study work visa has been discontinued, there is a provision under Tier 2 of the pointsbased system whereby students who graduate from a UK university will be able to take up graduate level jobs in the UK with registered companies paying a minimum of £20,000 a year, and work for three years, with the possibility to extend this for a further three years. These jobs do not form part of the annual limit on Tier 2 visas, nor are they subject to the usual resident labour market test.

Admitting that most Indian students are keen to work in the UK after they graduate so that they can finance their studies, Mazumdar says in the past through the post-study work visa route many students stayed on in the country trying to find the right job, while working on smaller assignments which did not require a qualification. But with the new changes, every deserving, hard-working student may get a job that fits their qualification. The country, he adds, is still open to talented Indians.

QUALITY EDUCATION

With the new rules in place, the UK government wants the best of international students to come to the country to study at high quality education institutions. The new changes announced by the government are to protect the interests of genuine students and target the areas where there has been abuse by education providers, students and their agents.

Mazumdar advises that all students should be concerned about is quality education, which most UK institutions of higher education offer. Also, he feels students should not confuse the reason why they are going to the UK — it is for the education not for employment. They should go to UK primarily for the quality education, which is a richer investment for life. Also, with globalisation it is not necessary that students who are keen to have international work experience have to stay in UK and work, they can also try for opportunities in other countries such as Singapore, Dubai, or even other parts of Europe. If a student has a good academic record, and the required skill-sets, the world is open to them, not simply one country.

The first step when you decide to go overseas for higher studies is to decide on your course of study, then research the best options available. If the best options are in the UK, decide on which institution. This is known as the three Cs of studying abroad — course, college, country.

For an undergraduate degree, students have to apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Postgraduate applications do not have a centralised admission process and are university specific mostly through online applications. Via the online system UCAS, a student is allowed to apply for a maximum of five different universities or courses. The student can upload one statement of purpose and one letter of recommendation in the UCAS form.

UK is also known for its strong research environment. Research is led by the Russell Group, a collaboration of 20 UK universities that together receive two-thirds of research grant and contract funding in the United Kingdom.

Source : The Times of India