Media Release

Indian student visa decision is “act of self-harm”, think-tank says

The Government has committed “an act of self-harm” by omitting India from a relaxation of visa rules on international students, a think-tank has said.

The Social Market Foundation said the Home Office decision to exclude Indian students from new immigration rules was a missed opportunity.

The Home Office has said it will reduce the level of documentation required of applicants for student visas from 26 countries including Australia and the United States. China is on the list, as are Argentina, Cambodia and Thailand. India is not.

James Kirkup, SMF Director, said that the omission of Indian students risks pushing even more Indian students away from British universities.

In the year that ended in September 2010, Britain gave visas to 60,322 students from India. By September 2017, the figure had fallen to 14,081. During the same period, the number of Indians studying at American and Canadian universities has risen.

James Kirkup said:

“International students bring funding into Britain’s world-class universities, help build this country’s standing around the world and are welcomed by the majority of British voters. Including them in any immigration cap is a mistake. Being seen to discriminate against Indian students is an act of economic and diplomatic self-harm.”

“Brexit means it is more important than ever for Britain to demonstrate that it is economically and intellectually open to the world. This decision sends the wrong message to India and its students.”



1 For more information, contact James Kirkup, SMF Director, on

2 Amendments to the list were signaled in a written ministerial statement:

The countries included in the student rules change are: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Botswana, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Maldives, Mexico, New Zealand, Qatar, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, the UAE and the USA.

3 India’s omission was first reported by The Hindu here:


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