Changes to the student visa system to prevent abuse has led to a decline in the number of students coming from India, but the overall number of international students coming to UK universities has not changed, according to a Home Office minister.
During a debate in the House of Lords last night, Home Office Minister of State Lord Henley was asked by Labour peer Lord Judd if he had "looked at the evidence of what has happened to the number of students coming from India? This is very grave in the context of our future relationship with India and the world".
According to parliamentary records, Lord Henley replied that "I accept there has been a decline in the number of students coming from India. Will the noble Lord also look at the increase in the number of students coming from other parts of south-east Asia? He will find that it easily compensates for the decline from India".
Lord Henley added: "We are not seeing a decline in the overall number of students coming to universities. What we are seeing is a decline in the numbers of those who were coming here allegedly to study but using that as a way of getting round the immigration system".
Stating that the controversial changes made to the student visa system were "quite right", the minister said: "I am proud of it, and there has been no damage to United Kingdom universities as a result".
Lord Henley said that the changes were intended to "reform the student visa route".
"No student who has an offer from a genuine, proper university, and who can speak English, is going to suffer in any way at all...(The) figures (are) more or less as they have always been; the students are still coming in.