Criticising the Cameron government for restrictions on student visas, the influential Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) said in a report that students from India and other non-EU countries should not be categorised as immigrants since most of them leave the country after studies.
Nick Pearce, Director of IPPR, told PTI: "Will the next generation of world leaders, like Manmohan Singh, Benazir Bhutto or Bill Clinton, be educated in the UK if the UK Government restrict the flow of students to the UK's world-class universities?" Prime Minister Manmohan Singh studied at Cambridge and Oxford, while late Pakistan Premier Bhutto and ex-US President Clinton were educated at Oxford.
He added: "International students take friendships and loyalties home with them that later become trade links, cultural bonds and diplomatic ties. The UK cannot afford to lose touch with the next generation of opinion-formers, restrict understanding of the British worldview or allow the UK to recede as a cultural reference point."
Several organisations, including the British Council and the Universities UK, have urged the government to reconsider the restrictions that were likely to reduce the number of Indian students coming to the UK from the next academic year, starting September.
The IPPR report, titled 'International Students and Net Migration in the UK', said the curbs on student visas were damaging British universities and colleges, the country's economy as well as Britain's international standing.