The number of Indian students coming to Britain from the new academic year starting later this month has showed a significant decline even before the crisis at London Metropolitan University (LMU) hit international headlines.
The London School of Economic (LSE) witnessed a 20 per cent decline this year in student numbers from India, a percentage reflected in several British universities. The final number of Indian other non-EU students joining in the new academic year will be released in January.
The decline in student numbers at LSE suggests that even well known institutions have taken a hit after Britain's immigration officials put in place new restrictions for international students. The decline is reported to be between 20 and 30 per cent at other universities.
The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, which published its report on the student visa system today, quoted Simeon Underwood, academic registrar at LSE, as saying: "We have already had a 20 per cent drop in applications from Indian applicants this year. "We know that that applies across the whole of the higher education sector and is not just an LSE phenomenon."
"It is in the Indian subcontinent where the feeling that the UKBA (UK Border Agency) regime is negative has bitten the most," he added. The LMU crisis has led to more bad news for Britain's image in the competitive international education market. Students from India and other countries are reported to be looking at other countries with less restrictive visa requirements.
The British Council has also reported a 'high level of concern' expressed at its offices in various countries after the LMU revocation hit headlines. Keen to deliver its promise to reduce immigration numbers, the David Cameron government has been putting in place and implementing new rules governing visas, including student visas.
The new regime has already led to a drop in the number of student visas being issued for the new academic year. Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "Our hard-hitting new measures are beginning to bite - we have already seen the number of student visas issued drop by 30 per cent in the 12 months to June 2012, compared with the same period in 2011, and recent enforcement action has seen 400 student overstayers leave the London area and return home.
He added: "Tough new rules have seen 500 fewer colleges being able to sponsor international students and last week London Metropolitan University's licence to teach non-EU students was revoked after it failed to address serious systemic failings".
Green said his message to students and education providers is: "Britain will welcome the best and the brightest students who meet our immigration rules but we will not tolerate any abuse."