Rise in Arab applications to UK universities

After the US, the UK is the next most sought-after destination for students from the Middle East, who make up around 6 percent of all international students in British universities. (Courtesy Ucas Facebook)
Updated 06 February 2018
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Rise in Arab applications to UK universities

LONDON: The number of foreign students applying to British universities has hit an all-time high, with some of the biggest increases coming from the Arab world, according to figures released by Ucas, the body that processes applications to UK universities.
After several years of declining numbers, applications from Saudi Arabia increased this year by 10 percent to 640 applicants.
The number of international students wanting to continue their education in Britain has surpassed 100,000 for the first time in 2018, a rise of more than 8 percent from last year.
Applications from the UAE numbered 430 in 2009, 1,550 in 2017 and 1,800 this year, up 16 percent in a year. The upward trend is repeated in almost every Arab country, from Morocco to the Gulf states.
Applications from Jordan are up 16 percent from 2017, and up 7 percent each from Oman and Kuwait. Applications from Lebanon and Morocco have surged by 25 percent each.
Only Bahrain and Egypt submitted fewer applications in 2018, from 310 to 300 and from 610 to 570, respectively.
After the US, the UK is the next most sought-after destination for students from the Middle East, who make up around 6 percent of all international students in British universities.
The biggest increases in international applications were from India (36 percent), Brazil (35 percent), Turkey (39 percent) and Mexico (52 percent).
And far from being put off by Brexit, more students from EU countries applied to British universities in 2018 than last year.
“The weaker pound makes the UK a cost-effective place to study … and the UK’s universities are highly popular with international students because of the quality of teaching and experience they offer,” said Helen Thorne, director of external relations at Ucas.
But sources say there are other factors at play — notably, a perception that under President Donald Trump the US has become more xenophobic and Islamophobic, evidenced by the travel ban against seven Muslim-majority countries, and his pledge to build a wall to halt immigration from neighboring Mexico and other Latin American countries.
The single biggest increase in the number of foreign students applying to British universities this year is from Mexico.
There are around 33,700 students from the Middle East enrolled in American universities and postgraduate schools, out of more than 690,000 foreign students.


With 10-year visa, UAE could be new land of opportunity for Indians

Routine day at Dubai International Airport. AN photo
Updated 23 May 2018
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With 10-year visa, UAE could be new land of opportunity for Indians

  • The ruler of Dubai changed rules to allow foreign investors to fully own companies
  • The Indian banking sector is far more developed in terms of product, technology and the caliber of professionals

NEW DELHI: Indians are likely to “flood” the UAE once its recently announced residency visa rules for students and highly qualified professionals come into place, experts said Tuesday.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and the prime minister of the UAE, announced on Sunday a 10-year visa for investors, scientists, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as their families.
 As part of the changes, students will get five-year visas and “exceptional” graduates will be eligible for a 10-year visa.  Students currently have to apply to renew their visa each year.
The ruler of Dubai also changed rules to allow foreign investors to fully own companies. So far companies have been required to have a local partner who would hold the majority stake.
 The changes are expected to kick in during the third quarter of this year.
 “The UAE has always welcomed, and always will, innovators and business leaders,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted as he announced the new rules.
 The UAE, with its proximity to India, high salaries and low taxes, has always been a magnet for Indians. It is home to about 2.6 million Indians who make up roughly 30 percent of the country’s population, according to the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. These numbers are expected to shoot up once the new rules apply.
 “Indians are always looking at new work opportunities anywhere in the world,” said Aradhana Mahna, managing director of Manya Education, a study abroad solutions provider in Delhi.  While the US and the UK have historically been avenues for Indian students looking to study abroad, the number of students applying to those countries have undergone a “sharp decline” since the election of US President Donald Trump — who made protectionist comments during his campaign days and since taking office — and since the UK decided to split with the European Union, Mahna said.
 “Dubai is close to home and that has always made it a preferred destination for Indians. Especially now with the US going down, it will be flooded by Indians,” she added.
Mukesh Bhasin, partner at Career Connect, an executive search firm that focuses on banking, financial services and the insurance sector (BFSI), agreed that the new rules would go a long way in attracting Indian talent.
 “The Indian banking sector is far more developed in terms of product, technology and the caliber of professionals,” he said. “The encouraging visa regime will lead to a lot of interest from Indian BFSI professionals toward Middle East opportunities given the already-existing tax benefits and international-quality lifestyle.”
 Since the collapse in 2008 of Lehman Brothers, most developed markets, including neighboring Singapore and Hong Kong, have cut back on the number of people they are hiring from abroad for their domestic operations. This includes a slowdown in foreign transfers for Indian employees of multinational banks, said Bhasin.