International students looking to study in the United Kingdom from next year will no longer be able to bring their family – including children or elderly parents – with them.

The UK government new restrictions for overseas students, announced on Tuesday, are likely to have a significant impact for Indians aspiring to study abroad. India was the UK top sending country in 2022, accounting for 41.4 percent of all foreign students granted graduate route visas.

What exactly has the UK government said?

New government restrictions to student visa routes will substantially cut net migration by restricting the ability for international students to bring family members on all but post-graduate research routes and banning people from using a student visa as a backdoor route to work in the UK

Almost 1,20,000 dependant visas were granted to the top 5 nationalities (Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) in 2022. Of this, the number of Indian dependants was only second to those from Nigeria.

What about undergraduate students?

The government has also made clear that the terms for foreign students enrolled in graduate courses – who are already not allowed to bring their families.

The new reforms will come into effect for students starting in January 2024, as per the UK Home Office.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman emphasised that the proposals announced on Tuesday do not detract from the government commitment to the International Education Strategy, which includes meeting the target to host 6 lakh international higher education students studying in the UK each year by 2030.

Over 6 lakh foreign students were accepted into British universities in each of the last two years. In 2021-22 there were 6,79,970 international students studying in the UK, as per the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

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