London: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed concern over a sharp decline in the number of Indian students coming to study in the UK and problems faced by them while applying for visas during his talks with British counterpart David Cameron.
"The Prime Minister raised the issue [of student visas] very strongly. The Prime Minister said that Indian student numbers in the UK has fallen by 50 per cent in the last three years," a Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said.
UK PM David Cameron and India PM Narendra Modi
"He urged that Indian students are among the best and the brightest in the world and it would be a win-win partnership for both sides. Indians needing a quality education and the UK benefiting from the expertise that Indian students bring," the spokesperson said.
"The Prime Minister said we are right now in a situation where countries are actually wooing Indian students because India has the biggest education market today. There's a burgeoning middle class, there is an aspirational upper class that wants to educate its kids abroad and it's an opportunity to tap into what has become a big economic market," she said.
In reference to Cameron's response on the issue, she said: "There was a lot of understanding and appreciation. This is a matter for continued discussion. I don't think we can close the chapter on this."
The number of Indian students coming to the UK fell from 18,535 in 2010-11 to 10,235 in 2012-13, according to a report by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
Universities have previously warned that negative impacts from the Conservatives' drive to reduce net migration is harming their recruitment of international students, calling for students to be removed from net migration figures.
The removal of post-study work visa route, which allowed students to work for two years after finishing their course, has been seen is one of the major off-putting factors for Indian students, who are choosing destinations like the US and Australia over the UK.