The All Party Parliamentary Group for International Students (APPG) has published a blueprint for the sustainable growth of UK international education, designed to help the sector regain its globally competitive position following eight years of restrictive Government policy.
The report makes 12 recommendations that, taken together, will restore the UK’s competitiveness in the international education sector, following eight years of relative decline. It is the first report to bring together recommendations to share growth across all areas of the UK and all levels of education, including universities, colleges, schools and English-language providers.
Paul Blomfield MP, co-chair of the International Students APPG:
“Increasingly restrictive policies and procedures over the last eight years have discouraged many international students from applying to the UK.”
“We need to press the reset button, establish an ambitious strategy to increase recruitment, put new policies in place, and send out a clear message that international students are welcome in the UK.”
“Our report offers a way forward for the Government, and a route-map to renewed competitiveness for our world-class universities and colleges. I urge Ministers to look carefully at our recommendations and step up to the challenge.”
Yinbo Yu, NUS International Students’ Officer, responding to the report:
“This is a refreshing contribution to the policy debate, which has, since the summer launch of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report, taken a big step in the wrong direction. Today’s report report put us back to where we need to be: recognising the immeasurable contributions that international students make to the social and economic lifeblood of the UK, and proposing a set of sensible recommendations to protect the viability of UK HE as a global provider.”
“The introduction of a post-study work visa would be particularly welcome, and would likely go some way to repair the UK’s ailing as an attractive study destination. The greater focus on a regional approach would also be beneficial: helping to capture the nuances of the international student experience in different parts of the UK. The call for an independent review into the effectiveness of credibility interviews demonstrates a deep understanding of the kind of barriers international students often face.”
“This is a thoughtful and considered set of recommendations, and I hope the government will pay them due heed as it prepares the immigration white paper. However we must also ensure that the debate is not dominated solely by discussion of growth: we also must consider how to support students once they arrive, to ensure that their experience from enrolment to employment is world-class.”
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GOVERNMENT
1. The APPG recommends that a cross-departmental group establishes a clear and ambitious target to grow international student numbers, supported by a cross-departmental strategy and a commitment to remove students from the target to reduce net migration.
2. The Government should offer a clearly labelled and attractive post-study work visa which allows up to two years of work experience in the UK.
3. The Government should pursue an EU deal for unrestricted movement of students and researchers, as part of a close relationship with European universities and provide urgent clarity for EU nationals studying and researching in the UK on what changes they will experience in visa and funding rights.
4. Immigration rules should facilitate and encourage students to study in the UK and at multiple study levels within the UK education system.
5. The Government should promote and protect the diversity of the UK education offer including small, specialist, vocational and further education providers within the proposed recruitment strategy.
6. The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration should conduct an independent review of credibility interviews within the student immigration system to ensure the system is fit for purpose, cost-effective relative to current risk and does not limit the diversity of international students in the UK.
7. The UK Government should work closely with devolved and regional governments to support growth in international student numbers, protect local courses and institutions which are dependent on international students, and support regional and national initiatives which enhance the benefit of international education such as work experience schemes and industry engagement.
8. The Government should accurately track data on education as an export and as an economic value, including at a national, regional and local level. Government should include education in their trade strategy when approaching bi-lateral agreements.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR UNIVERSITIES, COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS
9. Education institutions should share best practice across the education sector to enhance internationalisation strategies through maximising the advantages and benefits of having a diverse body of international students, as well as support more UK students to study abroad.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COOPERATION
10. Messages for international students regarding the UK should be welcoming, clear, simple and consistent. These should be developed in cooperation between the government and the education sector.
11. The UK should establish an international graduate and alumni strategy which would support international students for employment opportunities in their home country to boost UK soft power, research and trade and support greater engagement with alumni by universities, business and government. Activities to track the long-term employment destination of international graduates should be intensified.
12. Education institutions, local government and local business should come together to attract, plan for, support and integrate international students in the local community.
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Yinbo Yu is available for further comment. For further information, please get in touch with the NUS press office on 07866695010 or email@example.com.
APPG for International Students Secretariat can be reached on 020 3929 3370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. The National Union of Students is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions.
2. We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students. We promote, defend and extend the rights of students and develop and champion strong students’ unions.
3. The APPG for International students promotes the local, regional and national value of international education, and develops policies which would enhance the international student experience and the position of the UK in the global education market.