Vince Cable, the secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, will announce 396 new scholarships as part of a 1.5-million pounds UK-government funded programme during a week-long visit to India.

He will also be focusing on advanced manufacturing, trade and investment flows sectors. The scholarships would apply across 57 British universities in 2015.

He will also launch the new Education UK Alumni Awards to invite Indian students who completed their undergraduate degrees in the UK to return to their alma mater on an expense-paid visit.


"I will be making the case for encouraging Indian students in the UK and to cement it we've got a big new scholarship programme and a programme aimed at around quarter of a million Indian graduates who did their under-graduation in the UK so they can come back here for return visits and re-acquaint themselves with their old universities," Cable said.

The senior Liberal Democrat MP is the one of the most outspoken critic of the UK government's immigration policies that have proved off-putting to overseas students, resulting in a sharp drop of students from India.

"I want to send a very strong message that we really value Indian students in the UK. There's been quite a big drop off for a mixture of reasons but probably because of a false perception in India that they are not welcome," Cable said just before leaving for India on Thursday.

He admitted issues around the post-study work visa which made it difficult for students to stay on and work after completing their degrees.


He added: "The visa regime has been tightened. There was genuine abuse and as a result a lot of perfectly good students get caught up in the immigration controls and I would like to see some of that relaxed."

After a scheduled meeting with finance minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi he will move on to Pune and Chennai. He will also address students at the BITS Pilani campus in Goa, where he will be taking some time out to spend time with his in-laws in Margao.

"The point that is often made in India is that it's nice to have top level people coming but where's the follow up. We just want to make sure that we have a continuing flow of good businesses with ministerial support contributing to our commitment to the Indian relationship," Cable said.

The Bangalore Mumbai Economic Corridor and the Europe-led Eurofighter aircraft deal are also likely to feature on his agenda to push for British business interests in India.

"Some of the signals that have come out (from the new Indian government) have been very encouraging and we have noted there is a very positive approach to business in general and working with our companies," Cable said.