The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has called for British immigration authorities to stop being “a pain in the neck’’ for Indian students saying it is not only preventing some of the brightest young people from coming to Britain but is also damaging the country’s reputation.
He said he was “continually weighed in with the government’’, controlled by his own Tory Party, to make it easier for “great’’ Indian students to come to Britain for higher studies.
“We want to see more Indian students. They’ve been historically a massive and an important presence in London. They are very good for London’s higher education economy and I think it is good for Indian students as well,’’ Mr Johnson said at a dinner hosted by Indian Journalists’ Association (IJA)..
Commenting on the sharp drop in the number of Indian students applying to British universities since the introduction of tougher visa rules and changes to post-study residency requirements, he said: “Unfortunately, I am only the mayor and don’t control the visa policy but I’ve made the point very, very clearly to the government and was able to say quite a lot during the recent trip I did to India that we must, must, must support the right of great Indian students to come to our city.’’
Mr Johnson, who has been extremely critical of the government’s immigration policy, said it was “very worrying’’ that fewer Indian students were applying to come to Britain.
“I think what happened was a word of mouth thing. It got around that suddenly London, UK had become difficult and it was a pain in the neck and so on. I think that was the problem. So, I think it was a reputational thing and I hope we can address that. We really do want to see Indian students and we will do our best to support that.’’
Mr Johnson also called for more flights between London and India saying that London had some “catching up to do’’ to make it a more ” open and welcoming city for Indians”.
Lord Swraj Paul, Labour peer, described Mr Johnson as India’s “son-in-law’’, referring to the fact that his Marina Wheeler is half-Indian. Mr Johnson claimed he was the “first and only mayor of London with real live relatives in India”.