New report to assist the growth in international student numbers

International Students Inquiry

The All Party Parliamentary Group for International Students released their report entitled “A sustainable future for international students in the UK” can be read here

It was a pleasure for BETA to be involved in this process, both in giving evidence at the session in Parliament and providing written evidence to support the inquiry using our report: Great Britain at the heart of Global Youth Travel

The report seeks clarity around student visas and aims to assist the growth in international student numbers and makes 12 recommendations that 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. The report’s 12 recommendations are:

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.

BETA’s role in bringing together the interests of the industry, combing travel with education and raising the profile of this valuable sector are demonstrated here.

BETA members play a crucial role in enabling us to collect and share this information at the highest level to ensure that we can raise the profile and effect change.