UK Foreign Secretary Reacts Sharply to French President’s Invitation to Indian Students

French President Emmanuel Macron tried to reach out to Indian students through his tweets.


United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson clashed with French President Emmanuel Macron on the social media when the latter tried to woo Indian students to study in France.

Macron tried to reach out to Indian students through his tweets on March 10, when he posted: “I want to double the number of Indian students coming to France. If you choose France you gain access to francophonie, you gain access to Europe.”

The social media post did not go down too well with Johnson, who responded by pointing out the number of Indian students reaching the United Kingdom to study. “We are proud too to have more than 14,000 Indian students coming to the UK in 2017 – up a quarter over last year – choosing the home of the greatest universities, including four of the global top ten,” he tweeted on March 11, adding the hashtag #educationisgreatinEnglish to his comment.

The French president, during his address in New Delhi on March 10, presented his country as the new gateway to Europe for Indian students, against the backdrop of Britain leaving the European Union, PTI reported. “We are at the beginning of a new momentum between France and India,” he tweeted.

The exchange on social media is being seen as a reflection of how Britain wants to hold on to international students, including Indians, as they provide a huge input to UK’s economy. According to the estimates of Universities UK, overseas students contribute about £25 billion a year and support about 200,000 jobs around United Kingdom, the Guardian reported.

Britain wants more Indian students to come to the country to study, Bruce Buckneil, the British Deputy High Commissioner to India, said on Feb. 20. A 27 per cent increase was recorded in the number of tier four visas given to students from India in 2017, he added.

“We granted over 14,000 tier-four student visas and at the same time around 5,000 short-time study visas. Also, 53,000 tier-2 visas have been granted to Indian nationals,” he said, according to the Statesman. Prior to 2017, the number of tier four visas had dipped to 11,300.

The number of Indian students applying for admission to universities in the United Kingdom has shown an increase so far this year. The number of applications from India received from autumn 2017 to January 2018 is 36 per cent higher than that in the corresponding period a year ago, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), UK’s centralized university application system.

After a steep fall in the number of Indian students visiting the United Kingdom for higher studies since 2010, the numbers went up between September 2016 and 2017, according to official data published on Nov. 30, 2017.

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