London: A five per cent rise in the number of Indian students applying to study at UK universities is part of a wider hike in applications from international students from the outside the European Union (EU), new figures released here on Thursday revealed.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the UK's centralised university application system, disclosed that 4,690 students from India applied to take up courses at universities across Britain from September this year. This compares favourably to 4,470 applications last year and a considerable hike over the previous years.
While the figures do not reflect the actual number of Indian students who will be successful in their applications to be able to join these courses, they reflect an interest in the UK as a destination for higher education.
Last month, the UK's Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) had revealed that 28 per cent more Indian students enrolled on courses in the UK in the academic year 2017-18 than in 2016-17.
"It is fantastic news for the UK that the number of Indian students coming to our country appears to be on the rise. We hope to see these numbers continue to grow over coming years," said Vivienne Stern, Director, Universities UK International.
"Indian students are a vital part of the international university communities that we are so proud of in the UK. Indian students bring diverse perspectives to our campuses, new ideas to our classrooms and essential skills to our workforce," she said.
The UCAS data this week shows that a total of 561,420 students applied for a UK university course this year, almost 2,500 more than at the equivalent point last year, marking the first increase in three years.
The hike is largely down to a record number of applicants from outside the EU standing at 63,690, an increase of 9 per cent. The number of applicants from the EU increased by 1 per cent, to 43,890.
"In this time of uncertainty, it's welcome news to see more EU and international students wanting to come and study in the UK," said UCAS' Chief Executive Clare Marchant.
China maintained its lead as the largest source country of non-EU student applicants, with 15,880 applications, up from 11,920 in 2018 and followed by Hong Kong at 5,100.
India with 4,690 applications, the US with 4,050 and Singapore with 3,060 complete the top five non-EU countries list of student applications for the UK this year.
The figures are based on analysis of undergraduate applications received at UCAS by the January 15 deadline.
Meanwhile, Universities UK, the representative body for leading UK universities, said it will carry on campaigning for a student visa regime that makes the country even more attractive as a higher education destination.
It has welcomed some of the UK government's recent post-Brexit visa proposals to make it easier for students from outside the UK to remain in the country and look for work after they graduate.
Under the proposed changes, undergraduate and Masters students will be able to stay in the UK to look for work for six months after graduating. They will also have three months before graduating during which they can find work and change from a study visa to a work visa.
PhD students will be able to stay in the UK for a year to find work after graduating. They will also have three months before graduating during which they can find work and change from a study visa to a work visa.
International graduates will be given two years after graduating during which they can apply to switch their UK study visa to UK work visa from outside the UK.