Will an anti-im­mi­gra­tion UK govt want more In­dian stu­dents?

ON THE AGENDA Pro­posed Com­mon­wealth and tar­geted work visas for STEM stu­dents could boost the fall­ing num­bers of In­dian stu­dents in the UK – pro­vided the gov­ern­ment is ready to wel­come them

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Gauri Kohli Gauri Kohli

The Brexit ref­er­en­dum and Bri­tish prime min­is­ter Theresa May’s tough stand on stu­dent visas amidst re­ports that her gov­ern­ment will see where visa rules can be tight­ened, does not au­gur well for In­dian stu­dents. As it is, ac­cord­ing to In­ter­na­tional Con­sul­tants for Ed­u­ca­tion and Fairs Mon­i­tor, the num­bers of In­dian stu­dents trav­el­ling to the UK have fallen sharply in re­cent years. Be­tween 2013-14 and 201415, this num­ber fell by 10%, mak­ing the US dis­place In­dia as the se­cond-largest non-EU source mar­ket for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents. About 22,385 In­dian stu­dents came to the UK in the 2012/13 aca­demic year and just 18,320 in 2014-15 year, as per the UK Coun­cil for In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent Af­fairs data.

Jack Mo­ran, who is as­so­ci­ated with the QS In­tel­li­gence Unit (a team of global higher ed­u­ca­tion ex­perts and those re­spon­si­ble for bring­ing out the QS world univer­sity rank­ings), says there are two pri­mary poli­cies by which the UK gov­ern­ment could at­tract more In­dian stu­dents. “First, the UK gov­ern­ment needs to es­tab­lish how it is go­ing to rec­on­cile its de­sire to main­tain the UK’s sta­tus as an open des­ti­na­tion with a preva­lent pub­lic de­sire to see re­duced lev­els of im­mi­gra­tion.”

For­eign sec­re­tary Boris John­son’s pro­posed Com­mon­wealth Visa which would al­low In­dian grad­u­ates to stay and work in Lon­don for two years after com­ple­tion of their de­gree, ir­re­spec­tive of salary, if im­ple­mented, “would cer­tainly pro­vide one in­cen­tive to In­dian stu­dents, high­light­ing the UK’s spe­cific de­sire to en­cour­age the na­tion’s tal­ented stu­dents to study and re­search in the coun­try,” says Mo­ran. John­son has pro­posed the in­tro­duc­tion of a tar­geted work visa aimed at STEM (science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing, and math­e­mat­ics) stu­dents, which would al­low them to spend up to two years work­ing in the UK after grad­u­a­tion. “Though this will not be re­stricted to grad­u­ates of a spe­cific na­tion­al­ity, it is prob­a­ble In­dian stu­dents, who statis­tics show are more likely to opt to study a STEM sub­ject, will re­spond pos­i­tively to this,” adds Mo­ran. Hop­ing to at­tract more In­dian stu­dents, the gov­ern­ment and var­si­ties in UK are mulling new visa schemes, bud­get plans, fi­nan­cial grants and other ini­tia­tives. The UK-In­dia Ed­u­ca­tion and Re­search Ini­tia­tive will be ex­tended for five years from 2016. “This year, UK Visas and Im­mi­gra­tion in­tro­duced the Pri­or­ity Visa ser­vice to stu­dents, which al­lows them to get a visa de­ci­sion in three to five days for an ex­tra charge. This has been pop­u­lar with stu­dents ap­ply­ing this year. After China and the US, the UK is­sues more stu­dent visas to In­di­ans than any other coun­try. Nine out of 10 In­di­ans who ap­ply for their stu­dent visa get one,” says a UK Home Of­fice of­fi­cial. No ma­jor changes have been an­nounced i n t his year’s Com­mon Ad­mis­sion Test (CAT) for ad­mis­sion to man­age­ment pro­grammes across In­dian B-schools, but can­di­dates should be pre­pared for sur­prises.

As CAT i s being held i n De­cem­ber after two decades in­stead of the usual Novem­ber, as­pi­rants are get­ting an ex­tra two to three weeks to get ready for it.

CAT 2016 will broadly fol­low the same pat­tern as last year’s test, which in­cluded ques­tions with­out op­tions (also re­ferred to as ‘type in the an­swer ques­tions’). Dif­fi­culty lev­els of the in­di­vid­ual sec­tions, how­ever, will vary. Like last year, the test struc­ture, the sec­tions to be at­tempted and the time limit will not change. Sec­tions such as ver­bal abil­ity and read­ing com­pre­hen­sion; data in­ter­pre­ta­tion and log­i­cal rea­son­ing and quan­ti­ta­tive abil­ity will have to be solved in an hour each.

Ac­cord­ing to Arun Sharma, CAT prepa­ra­tion ex­pert and alum­nus of IIM Ban­ga­lore, any ma­jor changes at this stage are tough to pre­dict. “But given that the pat­tern is the same, the dif­fi­culty lev­els will vary. A sec­tion can have very tough ques­tions or very easy ones. Your prepa­ra­tion should be man­aged in such a fash­ion that it turns to your ad­van­tage.”

Sharma asks can­di­dates to prac­tice mock tests and work on as many ways as pos­si­ble to im­prove scores. “Get as close to 180 or more. This will help you on the test day. Do sec­tion-wise anal­y­sis and try to get close to 60 in each sec­tion. Anal­yse your weak­nesses and work on them, learn to max­imise the ad­van­tages of your strengths,” says Sharma.

With ne g at i ve mark­ing of mi­nus one for any wrong an­swer, a score of above 60 re­quires around 23-25 at­tempts in a sec­tion. To get to more than 80, you need to at­tempt over 28 ques­tions, he says.

Try look­ing at dif­fer­ent pa­per pat­terns and dif­fi­culty lev­els over the past two decades in each of the sec­tions.

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