Indian students in UK addresses by Indian High Commissioner Rajan Mathai

Rajan Mathai, the Indian High Commissioner successfully revived the 30 year old tradition on 2nd May, Friday, by inviting nearly 100 Indian students studying at various universities in and around London to India House for a widely appreciated interaction.

Until the 1980s, it was an annual practice for the high commissioner to meet newly-arrived Indian students. The number of students at the time was in the hundreds, but the practice stopped when the numbers went into the thousands (there are now 13,000 Indian students).

This comes as a step after India took the issue of Britain closing the post study work visa for students. Earlier it had allowed Indian students to work in Britain after completing their studies, gain experience and recover some of the high costs of studying.

The Indian Commissioner had called upon the students at the historic Gandhi Hall of India House. This building was designed by Herbert Baker who also designed the Parliament House in New Delhi.

Mr.Mathai said he had often discussed the issue of post study work visa with British authorities.
As a part of David Cameron government’s moves to limit immigration from Non-European Union Countries, the post study work visa was closed in 2012.

This leads to the reasons for a major drop in the number of Indian students coming to UK universities in recent years.

rajan_mathaiMathai said: “Many of the students who I have had an interaction with feel that if they’d had a chance to pay their way by staying on for a year – which the system allowed before – then it would make their taking loans and coming to the UK for education more worthwhile, more possible. That’s one reason the numbers have gone down.”

He added: “I have raised this issue with British authorities, several MPs have also done so. I hope it will be reviewed. We value your presence here and your contribution to the UK-India relationship.”

There are also allegations by Indian students of the Indian commission being unresponsive and rude in its dealings. Mathai assured a closer engagement with students. He also introduced the key officers to the gathering, who promised prompt response to their queries.

However, many students did appreciate the education system here by recounting their experience of studying in Britain. A student remarked, “mugging in India versus making you think here”.

The high commission has now revived the practice by holding similar interaction with students in other towns in Britain.

Sharanya Bharathwaj