U.K. is facing competition from countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand in attracting international students, said Nelly Sologashvili-Purcell, team leader of the U.K. universities that participated in the Education U.K. Exhibition held here on Thursday.
Speaking to The Hindu on the sidelines of the event, Ms. Nelly said that European countries are also promoting higher education actively to woo students from various places across the world.
“There is competition in terms of price (of the higher education offered), provisions provided to the students as well as extending better visa facilities and work environment to the aspirants. But the U.K. still remains the favoured destination for higher education among the international students”, she said.
Asked about which are the most sought-after courses in the U.K. among youngsters in India, Ms. Nelly, who is the Deputy Director of International Office of the University of Chester, said that there has been a change in the subject enquiries being made by the students.
“They are asking about a wide range of courses from health sciences to arts and management. Students have become more focussed (about the courses they want to choose). Information is also available freely on the various programmes offered by the universities in the U.K.,” she said.
Stating that Tourism and Hospitality courses are among the favourite courses of students from South India, Ms. Nelly said that the demand for Information Technology has come down compared to the previous years. “Nursing is another area much in demand among students in Kerala,” she said.
Pointing out that visa processing has become easier these days, Ms. Nelly said that the general student visas under Tier 4 of the points-based system is a hassle-free procedure.
According to the U.K. Border Agency, applicants must pass a points-based assessment, score 40 points and meet the immigration rules in order to qualify for entry to study in the U.K.
Young aspirants, who visited the various stalls at the fair, pointed out that the courses in UK are shorter in duration as compared to other countries. Those with a job offer can stay back in the U.K. and work under Tier 2 (General) after completion of studies, they said.
British Council officials said that a comprehensive website aimed solely at the Indian students – www.educationuk-in.org has a searchable database of more than 4,50,000 courses, information on visa procedures, stories from alumni, scholarship information and lots of advice for potential students and their families.