The United Kingdom is currently seeing a record intake of students from India, with the turnaround time for student visas having been reduced to just 15 days. This was disclosed by Alex Ellis, the British High Commissioner to India. In an exclusive interview with NDTV today, Mr Ellis said: "A lot of Indian students are now going in for the Priority visas which have a turnaround time of just five days. We can now see a remarkable thing -- India is now the number one country in the UK in terms of student visas and in terms of skilled worker visas. 45 per cent of all our skilled worker visas now go to Indians."
Mr Ellis further said: "My hope is that during this academic year, India will overtake China as the single biggest source of overseas students to UK. While this benefits the students, it also benefits the UK."
Last Tuesday, the British High Commission had announced the opening of Priority and Super Priority visa categories for Indian students who wished to undertake higher studies in the UK in the next academic session.
Further explaining the reason behind such a heavy influx of Indian students to Britain, the British High Commissioner said: "As we have changed our immigration policies, it's giving us more room to make further changes. Now you can work for two years or three years in the UK after you are done with your studies. This has actually worked to the benefit of Indian students."
Commenting on the immediate priorities of new British Prime Minister Liz Truss, Mr Ellis said: "For any incoming Prime Minister, domestic issues are most important. The inflation rate is high in UK and one of the major reasons behind that is Russia's arbitrary invasion of Ukraine."
However, he said that despite the change of leadership in Britain, UK-India trade ties will remain unaffected. To further illustrate the point, Mr Ellis said: "There is continuity in UK-India relationship. As we open up more, we create more possibilities. India is now the second-biggest investor in the UK in terms of new projects. We want to turn the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries into a reality. We are looking at doubling trade by 2030, that's going to help both the countries."
He said UK and India were looking at greater bilateral cooperation in areas of space exploration and defence.