Fewer Indian students hit science, technology courses: UK

LONDON: The reduced number of Indian students this year has led to concerns in some British universities over the financial viability of courses and departments particularly in the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

As universities report a drop of between 20 and 30% of Indian students in the forthcoming academic year starting later this month, the drop has caused much concern over the future of STEM courses that have been popular among postgraduate Indian students.

In oral evidence presented to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee of parliament, senior figures in higher education and industry noted the concern among vice-chancellors about the impact of less Indian students on the financial viability of STEM courses and departments.

The committee, which published its report on ‘Overseas Students and Net Migration’ last week, recommended that Indian and other non-EU students should be removed from overall immigration figures since most of them return home after their courses.

The recommendation, however, was rejected by the government keen to cut immigration from outside the EU.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, which represents all universities and higher education institutions, told the committee that vice-chancellors were “particularly concerned” about the impact of less Indian students on STEM subjects.

She said: “I think it is too early to draw apocalyptic conclusions about the closures of departments, but the trends are not good.

It is particularly apparent now, because of the reduction of Indian students – students coming from the Indian subcontinent to study STEM subjects -that is where there are already questions being asked about the sustainability of certain subjects”.

She said: “We are also seeing an actual reduction in student intake from some countries, particularly from India, particularly in the postgraduate market, and for some universities that is quite marked”.

Dandridge said some universities were particularly concerned about the impact of reduction of international student numbers on specific subject areas, especially STEM, where, “although they are manageable this year, the reductions may affect -may affect–the viability of some subjects in the future”.

Source: The Times of India


New bill to transform emigration process

The movement of every person who exits the country would be regulated soon, thanks to a proposed bill that seeks to transform the emigration process into a simple and hassle-free exercise.

The inter-ministerial consultations on the Emigration Management Bill, 2010, which would replace the existing Emigration Act, 1983, is over and the Bill will soon be sent to the Cabinet for its approval, a government official said on Thursday.

The draft Bill was sent to various ministries including Law Ministry and Home Ministry for their comments.

“We expect the Cabinet to give its approval by the end of June, after which the Bill would be tabled in Parliament,” G Gurucharan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs said at a Workshop on Prevention of Irregular Migration.

He said the new legislation would provide a state-of- the art model to regulate all those who leave the country whether he is a skilled worker, unskilled or even professionals.

Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, A Didar Singh stressed on the need for bilateral and regional agreements between countries to streamline the emigration process.

“An international agreement in this regard is far off and so it is necessary that bilateral and regional agreements between countries be signed. It should handle both regular and irregular emigration,” he said.

Singh said India has already signed an agreement with Denmark and negotiations for a similar pact with Belgium, Netherlands and France are in advance stages.

Gurucharan said under the new law, an Emigration Management Authority (EMA) is proposed to be created replacing the existing Protector General of Emigrants and EMA will create a user-friendly online system to ensure hassle-free emigration.

The legislation also seeks to tighten noose against those unscrupulous agents who often dupe people seeking to go abroad.

As per the new bill, all the recruiting agencies will be regulated and registration of agencies made mandatory based on specific criteria.

Gurucharan said India has set up ‘Indian Workers Resource Centre’ in Gulf countries to help workers from the country, especially those in unorganised sector.

“The centres will provide legal, health and financial counselling for the Indian workers in Gulf countries,” he said.

The government is planning to make it mandatory for foreign employers from certain countries to register in India under the new Law.

Source: Economic Times


Europe, India sign Joint Declaration on Research and Innovation Cooperation

The European Commission and the Indian Government have today signed a Joint Declaration on Research and Innovation Cooperation. The Declaration provides an opportunity to step up relations between Europe and India towards an “Indo-European Research and Innovation Partnership”. The Declaration was signed at the EU-India Summit in New Delhi by the Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht and by Ashwani Kumar, Minister of State for Science & Technology.

Source: European Commission


Scientists exempted from tougher UK immigration rules

For the past 18 months, the UK government has been screwing down the clamps on immigration, proclaiming that it wants to reduce net migration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands a year. Scientists have been watching the crackdown with concern.

Fortunately, it seems researchers have escaped the latest tweak to the rules, announced on February 29. Until now, non-Europeans who had out-stayed the standard 5-year visa in the UK were virtually guaranteed to be allowed to settle in the country.

The new rules say this is no longer true: you will have to be earning at least £35,000 to avoid being kicked out. But international researchers can breathe easy: PhD-level jobs and other ‘shortage-level occupations’ (most of which involve scientists) are exempt from the wage requirements. However, scientists and graduate students wanting to come to the UK still face stricter visa quotas.

Source: Nature