United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May has suggested that she would be open to improving the visa system currently in place for international students if, in return, India helps to return possibly thousands of “overstayers” currently residing within the UK.

In an effort to strengthen ties between the UK and India, Theresa May has proposed a new “one in, one out” policy which would see a higher number of visas granted in an effort to boost trade links between the UK and one of its oldest trading partners, writes Kate McCann for The Telegraph.

“As part of this, the UK will consider further improvements to our visa offer if at the same time we can step up the speed and volume of returns of Indians with no right to remain in the UK.

“And the UK will continue to welcome the brightest and best Indian students, with the latest figures showing that nine out of ten applications are granted,” Mrs. May told a press conference in India.

Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted in a speech given in New Delhi that a higher number of students must participate in the educational exchange between the UK and India, adding that education is a “vital” part of the relationship that exists between the two countries.  He went on to say that, because of this, students should receive encouragement to travel and participate in educational research opportunities.

Anushka Asthana writes for The Guardian that the comments made by Modi were viewed by many to signify the importance of travelling throughout the world that is placed on students and professionals by the people of India.

Current data shows that the number of Indian students attending UK universities has dropped by 50% over the past five years, going from around 40,000 students down to nearly 20,000.  This decrease is said to be due to strict visa regulations and the rules surrounding work permits granted upon graduation, according to spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swaroop.

Despite this drop, Kritika Sharma reports for DNAIndia that the UK continues to be a top choice for Indian students in terms of places to attain higher education.  As such, students throughout the country are remaining hopeful that the conversation between Modi and May will be positive one.

May previously suggested that Britain would not be increasing the number of visas it granted to Indians looking to study and work in the UK, stating that the current system was fairly generous.  She went on to say that the country was able to obtain access to the “best and brightest” outside the EU already.  She noted that current data shows the country already issues more work visas to Indian people than the US, Australia, and China combined, adding that nine out of ten visas are already accepted.

May did say that she would like to have an open relationship exist between the two countries, stating that India would become the first visa country to be placed on a registered traveler plan, writes Jenny Gross for The Wall Street Journal.  Doing so would expedite the experience of travellers going through British airports by reducing the number of forms needed to be filled out, increasing access to EU/EEA passport control, and streamlining the passage travellers are exposed to while visiting the airport.

She added that the two countries will both benefit from a close working relationship.

“Because we know from history what happens when countries do not embrace the opportunities of the world. They stagnate, they get poorer, they don’t protect their people, they make them worse off.”

As a result of the talks, the two prime ministers did announce a number of new initiatives, including 198 new GREAT scholarships that will offer Indian students the opportunity to study at one of 40 universities in the UK.