UK inflation: Study abroad trip for Indians gets complicated amid fight for affordable living

New Delhi: Indians may have received the highest number of UK student visas this year, but finding accommodation and surviving in the cities where their colleges or universities are based has become a challenge for international students with the increase in l ‘inflation.

According to students and industry experts, the study abroad trip has become a bumpy road for students who have just moved to the country, making it a real nightmare to have no roof over their heads in a country that is completely foreign to them.

Their woes are not just about finding affordable housing, but also about surviving amid ever-increasing food inflation that has increased their daily expenses.

Inflation in the UK is at an all-time high in 2022. The Consumer Price Index including Homeowner Housing Costs (CPIH) has increased by 8.8% in the 12 months to in September 2022. According to November statistics from the Office for National Statistics, the inflation rate soared to 9.3%.

According to statistics from the British High Commission, India has now overtaken China as the largest nationality to receive sponsored study visas in the UK. Indians received the highest number of UK student visas at 1.27 lakh for the year ending September 2022.

“I was forced to spend around Rs 1 lakh while changing Airbnbs between Oct 1 and Oct 21 last year and had over 10 in-person visits for accommodation after arriving at London. I was going out every day on weekdays after university too,” said Chayanika Dubey, who flew to the UK three months ago to pursue a master’s degree in administration and cultural policy at Goldsmiths University in London.

Naman Makkar, a student currently pursuing a Masters in International Business at Aston University in Birmingham, is trying to remain optimistic while battling against such high prices.

“With current inflation rates, keeping my expenses to a minimum is a challenge in itself. I tend to focus on the essentials, but sometimes I try to take care of my cravings because when you’re away from home you can’t afford to overlook the importance of self-care,” said he declared.

Ria Jain, who completed her A-levels 7 years ago in the UK and again chose the same place to continue her studies, said: “Seven years ago I was spending the same amount on food for at least two weeks that I spend on the amount of food that probably wouldn’t last more than four days.

Jain is pursuing a Masters degree in Project Management at the University of Northampton.

The unfolding scenario also makes some study abroad applicants fearful of choosing the country as their destination.

Skandha Rajeev, a pupil in class 12, said: “Since class six, it has always been my dream to do my baccalaureate in the UK and prepare accordingly. But with the constant financial crisis in the country, I decided to take a realistic approach by choosing a less bloated country than the UK”.

“With constantly increasing prices, expectations and pressure are also increasing. As a student in a new country, I prefer to focus on my studies rather than worrying about how much allowance I have left,” he said.

Rajeev instead chose to study electronic engineering in Canada after completing his studies.

Anubhav Seth, AVP, Career Launcher, however, believes a massive shift in popular choice of study abroad destinations is unlikely.

“The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia remain the main destinations for students who go abroad to pursue higher education. Higher visa refusal rates for student applications in Canada and the ease of applying to the UK have caused shifts among major destinations, with the UK emerging as the favourite. However, destinations such as the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Germany, Turkey and Malaysia are rapidly becoming popular destinations, but a complete change is unlikely,” he said.

His thoughts were echoed by Ankit Mehra, CEO and co-founder of GyanDhan, an education finance company, who said the changes introduced by the UK Home Office for the student visa had no direct impact. on the study prospects of Indian students in the UK.

“The UK is not going to get any less supportive any time soon. The country is gaining momentum with the implementation of the Graduate Route and the High Potential Individual Visa Route.

“But the rising cost of living has increased the financial burden for students abroad. This has led to an increase in demand for complementary loans. Lenders have also increased the limit on the loan amount to pursue studies abroad,” Mehra said.

Amit Singh, founder of UniAcco, a global platform that helps students find the right accommodation, said the UK has been going through a housing crisis for 8-10 years, which is putting pressure on the residential housing stock.

“Over the last 4-5 years, municipalities have strongly opposed landlords renting their accommodation to students. If you are a student and want to land in the UK, take accommodation like the PGs operate in India, those possibilities have only diminished,” he said.

By Lavanya Sharma


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