March 12 - Strict new visa rules are deterring foreign students from studying in the UK, depriving the economy of billions of pounds at a time when the country can ill afford it. Ivor Bennett reports
REFEED: PLS NOTE RESENT WITH CORRECTED AUDIO University itself is hard enough. But for students from India, the bigger challenge now comes AFTER graduation. Strict new visa rules mean they can only stay in the UK if they find a job that's sponsored - a lengthy 2 month process many companies aren't willing to go through. SOUNDBITE (English) ARJUN SATHE, MBA GRADUATE, CASS BUSINESS SCHOOL, SAYING: "Everyone pretty much underestimated the reluctance to sponsor a graduate. and essentially people didn't expect that it would be that difficult." Arjun graduated from Cass business school in London last summer. Yet already, he's the only Indian student from his course left in the country. The rest couldn't find a sponsor, so had to return home. SOUNDBITE (English) ARJUN SATHE, MBA GRADUATE, CASS BUSINESS SCHOOL, SAYING: "They're probably going to tell all their friends that there's pretty much no point in applying because the chances of getting a job and staying on are so slim and you may not get a job of your choice. There are just too many barriers. The message is already out. 40-thousand Indian students came to UK universities in 2010. but after the visa changes came in a year later, that number dropped by a quarter. It's a loss universities say could prove costly. SOUNDBITE (English) NICOLA DANDRIDGE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, UNIVERSITES UK, SAYING: "These are highly skilled people, many of whom we'd like to stay in this country and do highly skilled jobs. so there is this question of us losing talent in the UK which we can ill afford to do. And that is an important consideration not just for UK universities but for the government and the country as a whole." SOUNDBITE (English) IVOR BENNETT, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "8 billion pounds is how much the government reckons overseas students bring to the economy. An amount that's sure to dwindle since India's the UK's 2nd highest biggest supplier of foreign students. Education's a key export for the British economy and David Cameron knows it. The British Prime Minister tried to woo potential students on his recent trip to India by insisting there is no visa cap, nor any job limit. But as long as the visa restrictions remain the same, students may continue to look elsewhere.