London (Agencies): Britain's move to abolish the visa that allows Indian and other non-EU students to take up employment in the UK for two years after the completion of their courses is likely to reduce the number of Indians coming here for MBA degrees, an industry body has said.

The London-based Association of MBAs, which accredits business management courses in 70 countries, including the UK, said the proposed move was of 'significant concern', and would restrict enrolment of international students from India and elsewhere.

In a speech last week, immigration minister Damian Green said that non-EU students could not be allowed unfettered access to the UK labour market amidst growing unemployment in Britain.

He said: "The post study work route was intended to form a bridge between study and skilled work, allowing all international graduates to remain for two years after graduation... To allow unfettered access to the jobs market for two years to anyone with a student visa from abroad is putting an unnecessary extra strain on our own graduates".

Noting that India and China are two of the UK's biggest markets for international students, the association said in its response to the consultation on the student visa review that the UK must do all it can to remain competitive in the highly skilled business education sector.

"Turning students away by restricting their access to post-study employment puts their reputations at stake and threatens future viability," it said.

The association said that MBA courses have high fees, and does not attract the type of migrants which the David Cameron government was seeking to deter from entering and abusing the student visa system.

Moreover, MBA international students bring "a high level of income for UK universities at a time when they are struggling for funding", the association said.

The Association of MBAs surveyed 47 accredited business schools in the UK in early January 2011.

Of the 34 who responded, 97 per cent said that they believe continued restrictions on student visas are likely to impact their enrolment numbers in the future.

Of these, 56 per cent said that the impact was highly likely.

"This supports deep concerns voiced in focus groups among business schools that prospective students will look elsewhere to competitor countries including Canada, the United States and Australia", it said.

"We urge the government to recognise that there are different categories of international students".

Green's proposed restrictive measures on the student visa system have already raised a welter of protest from the education sector.

Professor Edward Acton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of East Anglia, and a spokesman for Universities UK, said the Government's plans amounted to a 'hostile act'.

Professor David Wark, of Imperial College London, also warned against plans to weaken the link between study and work.

India raises US visa fee hike issue


Meanwhile, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma in a meeting with visiting US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke raised the issue of visa fee hike by the US in the capital on Monday, emphasising the Obama administration not to take any step detrimental to the interest of Indian IT professionals.

Locke is leading a 24-member high level US business delegation, which will also visit Mumbai and Bangalore.

"We hope that there will not be any measures which negatively impact on the movement of professionals between the two countries,, particularly, our IT professionals in the US," Sharma told reporters here after the meeting.

When asked whether India would drag the US into the WTO on the issue, Sharma said: "I don't think we have reached that stage."

The US has recently hiked visa fees in certain categories of H—1B and L1, which was mainly used by Indian IT professionals, to fund security measures along the US-Mexico border.

According to software industry body Nasscom, the Indian IT-BPO sector is estimated to grow 19 per cent in revenue terms during 2010-11 to USD 76 billion.

The US is an important destination for Indian IT-BPO sector.