UK's share of Indian students declining: Report

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London, Apr 25 (UNI) The UK's share of Indian students is declining relative to its competitors, notably Australia, as visa issues and limits on post-graduation working hampering the enthusiasm, a report said.

The Business and Enterprise Committee's fifth report, 'Waking up to India: Developments in UK-India economic relations' has expressed concern over the situation and has called on the Government to carry out a comprehensive study of how the UK could be made a more attractive destination to Indian students.

The report has welcomed the establishment of an Education Forum while pointing that the visa issues and limits on post-graduation working may be reducing Indian students' enthusiasm to study in the UK.

It therefore specifically recommends that the policy example set by Scotland, which allows Indian graduates to remain for two years, be extended to England and Wales, where they may currently only stay for one year.

The report also says that the Government should also consider extending the period beyond two years for qualifications in certain specific professions that require longer periods of work experience.

The report also seeks improvements to the arrangements for visas for business travellers.

It is a follow up of the 2006 report, 'Trade and Investment Opportunities with India', which warned that greater engagement was imperative.

In its new report the committee says that the UK is uniquely well placed to take advantage of the opportunities in India.

The report found that UK plc appears to have 'woken up' to India, and commended the Government for the increased resources that have been allocated to India by UK Trade and Investment, the trade and investment promotion body.

The Committee is also gratified to see its recommendation for the Indo-British Partnership Network to become the de facto bilateral chamber implemented, following the creation of the UK-India Business Council and a significant increase in funding. The report notes the good work the UKIBC is already doing.

However, the report warns that despite these improvements, with India's economy growing at nine per cent a year, this is no time for complacency.

The Committee criticised the slow progress in the inter-governmental UK-India Joint Economic and Trade Committee (JETCO) process in key areas for UK businesses - financial, legal, accountancy, and retail services.

These are areas in which the UK has a clear trade advantage, but in which liberalisation will also bring real benefits to India. The Committee seeked clear reassurance from Ministers that momentum of the liberalisation process be maintained.

''The Indian middle class continues to grow, Indian business is now supremely confident and the huge deals companies, are entering into - like Tata's acquisition of both Corus and Jaguar Land Rover - demonstrate a determination from which Britain is uniquely well placed to gain advantage,'' Committee's Chairmain Peter Luff said.

There is a reservoir of goodwill towards Britain in India which gives us a competitive edge in trade and investment relations unmatched by any of our competitors, but there is no room for complacency. We need to establish a relationship as special with India as the one we have enjoyed with the US. I hope the Government takes note of the recommendations in our report to aid this process, he added.

The committee members includes Adrian Bailey (Lab), Roger Berry (Lab), Brian Binley, Michael Clapham (Lab), Lindsay Hoyle (Lab), Mark Hunter (Lib Dem), Julie Kirkbride (Con), Anne Moffat (Lab), Mike Weir (SNP) and Anthony Wright (Lab).


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