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During a recent visit to India and Pakistan, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for the introduction of a new post-study work visa for international students. In 2014, reforms to the Tier 4 visa led to the closure of 900 fake colleges. The decision to end the Tier 1 post study work visa also had an impact on the number of students coming to the UK.
The changes were made when Theresa May was Home Secretary under the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. Khan blamed May directly for the fall in international students coming to the UK. He said: “The British prime minister, Theresa May got it badly wrong with her decision to close this route a few years ago. It’s not only led to a substantial drop in Indian students coming to our universities, it’s in danger of starving my city of great talent.”
A Home Office Spokesperson issued a statement about the decision to end the Tier 1 post work visa programme. The spokesperson said: “The Government recognises how important our immigration system is in ensuring that the UK is a place where talent thrives, and we are committed to creating an immigration system which best serves the people and businesses of the UK.”
In light of this, Khan proposed a new category of post-study work visa that would encourage students to stay in the UK after studying. The number of Indian students choosing to study in London has fallen by 40% since 2010. There were fewer than 5,000 Indian students in London between 2015-16.
In a speech to Indian business leaders, Khan set out his vision for encouraging more young people from India to study in London. It is hoped that this would form the foundation of a new special relationship and encourage more trade and investment between the two countries.
India is considered to be a key target for trade after Brexit. However, one senior Indian diplomat has already spoken out about the expectations of a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK. India’s High Commissioner has said that the UK would have to be open to accepting higher levels of immigration from India if there is to be a favourable trade deal. Y K Sinha warned that a free trade deal could take decades to negotiate and that freedom of movement would be a key component of the deal.