‘It’s all about qual­ity jobs’

Don’t worry about visa curbs when you can stay on and work in the UK, says the Bri­tish high com­mis­sioner WHY UK?

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Aye­sha Ban­er­jee

The re­cent UK ed­u­ca­tion fair at the Bri­tish Coun­cil in New Delhi may have at­tracted many en­thu­si­as­tic young peo­ple, but there were un­der­ly­ing wor­ries about the re­cent stu­dent visa re­stric­tions, which in­clude re­moval of the post-study work op­tion and the Lon­don Met­ro­pol­i­tan Univer­sity (LMU) case. So will th­ese is­sues im­pact stu­dent mo­bil­ity?

The Bri­tish high com­mis­sioner, Sir James Be­van, feels In­di­ans as­pir­ing to study in that coun­try are right to be con­cerned about the visa prob­lem. “That’s why we’ve en­sured that there re­mains a pro­vi­sion for In­dian stu­dents to work af­ter study,” he says. Since April 2012 for­eign stu­dents can con­tinue to re­main in the UK af­ter com­plet­ing work, pro­vided the jobs they are do­ing are of grad­u­ate level. Ear­lier, you could stay on for two years at any kind of job. The salary thresh­old of 20,000 pounds which has been set “is rea­son­able be­cause the av­er­age wage in the UK is 26,000 pounds. So it’s a thresh­old eas­ily crossed pro­vided you get grad­u­ate level jobs,” says Be­van

In­di­ans usu­ally study en­gi­neer­ing or IT or busi­ness, for which there is a big de­mand amongst em­ploy­ers. “So, the new rule means if you get a grad­u­ate level job in the UK you can work for at least three years with the op­tion for ex­tend­ing it for an­other three years. In a way that’s a bet­ter deal be­cause it of­fers you six years of work in the UK in a qual­ity job rather than two years in a pretty low qual­ity job” (as was the case ear­lier), Be­van adds.

And can one sur­vive on 20,000 pounds a year? Sayan­tan Das, a soft­ware pro­fes­sional with Smart Sat in Lon­don, says one can “get by. Travel and rent are very ex­pen­sive in Lon­don, but life is rel­a­tively bet­ter in the sub­urbs and other cities,” he adds. On LMU, Be­van says all ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions in “There are usu­ally nearly half a mil­lion for­eign stu­dents in Bri­tian at any given time of whom at the moment just over 30,000 are In­dian. “If you look at the cur­rent lead­er­ship of In­dia,” says Be­van, “whether it’s the politi­cians, busi­ness peo­ple or those in the me­dia, you will see that a very high pro­por­tion of those peo­ple stud­ied in the UK.Our for­eign min­is­ter was here re­cently and he met his In­dian coun­ter­part Sal­man Khur­shid. They had both been to Ox­ford so there was a bond...” the UK who were tak­ing in for­eign stu­dents had to demon­strate that they had gen­uine stu­dents on the rolls; that the stu­dents were at­tend­ing classes reg­u­larly and that they spoke good English to be able to profit from that course. “When our bor­der agency in­spected LMU they found they could not sat­isfy us on any of those three things. We will, how­ever, be work­ing with them (LMU) to see if we can find a so­lu­tion that sat­is­fies our bor­der re­quire­ments,” he says.

A court has ruled that the stu­dents at LMU who are le­git­i­mately in the UK with a valid visa will be able to stay on and con­tinue stud­ies. “If that changes, the Bri­tish government will do ev­ery­thing it can to help the stu­dents. If they can­not con­tinue to study at LMU, we will find them alternative places at other univer­si­ties,” Be­van says.

Both Be­van and Bri­tish Coun­cil di­rec­tor Rob Lynes were hope­ful of the for­eign univer­si­ties bill be­ing passed. “More im­por­tantly, col­lab­o­ra­tions and agree­ments be­tween In­dia and the UK are in­creas­ing. Over the last five years the UK In­dia Ed­u­ca­tional Re­search Ini­tia­tive (UKIERI) has seen over 700 new part­ner­ships de­velop. Th­ese are be­tween the top univer­si­ties such as Cam­bridge, Ox­ford and oth­ers and top univer­si­ties in In­dia,” says Lynes.

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