London: A senior British minister has admitted that "a lot of tension" exists among the coalition partners of the David Cameron government over the sharp decline in visa applications from Indian students wanting to study in the UK.
Britain's Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills, Vince Cable, is scheduled to visit India next month to address the drop in visas from Indian students coming to study in British universities.
Cable, a centrist Liberal Democrat whose party favours an "open, welcoming approach" to international students, conceded there is tension between his ministry and UK's home ministry headed by Teresa May, a right-wing Conservative, over visa rules.
"There is quite a lot of tension (in the Cabinet)," he said while delivering the Sarat Bose Memorial Lecture last evening.
Cable said there was "deep disagreement in our coalition" in this respect.
The minister said he was inclined towards greater leniency on post-study work visas for overseas students.
"The student visa has been tightened, but there is a perception issue in India that UK no longer welcomes students, which is not true at all," Cable said, referring to the recent tightening of the visa regime in the UK to stop bogus students from entering the country.
Indians have been discouraged from studying in Britain after the Cameron government made issuance of post-study visas conditional upon the applicant earning a high salary.
The post-study visa enabled students, who had taken loans for their higher studies, to repay some of their debt and gain work experience before their return to India.
But there has been incidents of abuse of this system as people often do not engage in meaningful jobs.
During the lecture organised to mark the 125th birth anniversary of freedom fighter and senior Congress leader Sarat Bose, Cable lauded his stand on "religious sectarianism and the need to oppose it" during India's partition.
Cable highlighted what he described as "the revival and strengthening of the politics of identity" in the world, which Bose stood against.
He praised that Bose, a minister in the Jawaharlal Nehru government, "resigned on principle" from the Congress Working Committee, because he was unhappy about the party accepting partition.
He, however, asserted that although the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was a "party based on its religious identity", he is happy to deal with it, since it had been democratically elected.