BIS publish their International Education Strategy

Recognising that education is one of the UK’s global success stories, and keen to tap into future opportunities for growth in HE and FE, BIS have published their International Education Strategy. Here is a summary the key points:
Key Challenges
  • Lack of co-ordination between agencies and actors- UK institutions are traditionally independent and autonomous institutions. However this makes it difficult for them to work together on a larger scale. Many emerging economies not only want to send their students abroad but also want to develop their domestic educational system. A coordinated effort from several institutions will be needed.
  • Not structured for growth- Having charitable status means that institutions are not suited to rapid growth and tend to be conservative in their approach to risk. There are also a number of planning constraints that stifle physical growth.
  • Visas- Whilst the visa system is now ‘robust’, there is still a perception that the UK reacts negatively to foreign students. Steps need to be taken to ensure that the UK is seen as welcoming as possible to international students.
  • Competition from other types of provider- Multinational companies, the use of technology and the development of MOOCs has meant that institutions will need to adapt quickly to survive.  In particular they will need to have flexibility and an entrepreneurial approach, be able to form partnerships and collaborations and have access to extra investment.
  • Stronger country-to-country competition- There is more activity from those countries that are well-established in education market and growing interest from countries that didn’t previously compete.
  • Changing customer relationships- There is a greater demand for UK institutions to reach students in their own countries rather than the student coming to the UK. This will mean that new partnerships and collaborations will need to be developed and new campuses established.
Attracting international students
  • To attract international students the UK must show that the UK values international students, will provide a warm welcome and support while they are here and will keep in touch after they go home.
  • BIS will increase protection for international students while they are here. It has set up a new cross-Government Responding to International Students Crises (RISC) committee to monitor emerging crises and identify where action is needed.
 Providing UK education overseas
  • Transnational education (TNE) is a realistic aspiration. BIS want to support universities, colleges, English language teaching providers, independent schools and private education companies to deliver a UK education overseas. To support this aim BIS will reinforce the quality assurance framework for TNE. BIS wishes to increase the number of UK students gaining valuable experience through overseas mobility placements, which both increases students’ employability and supports the UK’s ties overseas.
  • BIS have identified China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Turkey, Mexico, Indonesia and the Gulf as priorities for international education.
  • The Higher Education International Unit is developing a strategy to encourage UK students to study abroad.
  • The British Council is providing an online portal with information on study opportunities and delivery programmes such as Generation UK which promotes study and internship opportunities in China. 
  • BIS will also expand the Education UK recruitment service, which has been used by the British Council to attract international students to the UK including providing a better website.

Encouraging international partnerships

  • BIS will explore opportunities to broker new partnerships with countries looking to send large numbers of students to the UK on government scholarships.
  • BIS is in discussions with key partner countries, including the United Arab Emirates, India and Russia, to achieve mutual recognition of qualifications.
  • The Department for International Development (DFID) plans to double its investment in development partnerships in higher education.
  • The Government will establish a new International Education Council to act as a champion for this strategy and the international education sector. BIS will appoint a UK Education Champion who will co-chair the International Education Council.
  • The new Education UK Unit will support the UK education sector in the export market focusing on high value opportunities overseas. By 2015, the Unit aims to secure contracts worth £1 billion, with a longer-term goal of securing £3 billion by 2020.
  • The Government is committed to making it easier for small and medium sized business to access the right support. BIS will promote to the education technology community the full range of generic enterprise support that they can access. UK Export Finance can also offer help to exporters and investors in the form of insurance and guarantees.
  • BIS will encourage and promote UK institutions developing new modes of technology-supported delivery in global markets.
  • BIS will work with the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and other partners to develop a more targeted support programme for educational technology innovation and its commercialisation.
  • An advisory group with technology experts from the sector and industry will provide guidance to the Skills Minister on how technology can be used to improve and enhance learning across the skills sector. 
Eloise Di Pasqua
Education Team
For and on behalf of SGH Martineau LLP
DD: 0800 763 1377
International DD: +44 800 763 1377


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