Indian students’ top priority in the new U.K. International Education Strategy

National/London: Ambitious U.K. International Education Strategy focuses on increasing international education by focusing on India, improving the international student experience and supporting opportunities in online education. A focus on India is at the heart of the U.K. government’s renewed commitment to the importance of international education detailed in its latest International Education Strategy.

The Strategy reinforces the ambitious target of increasing education exports by 75% to £35 billion a year by 2030 and highlights Indian students and U.K. Indian education partnership as crucial to these ambitions.

The new U.K. Strategy focuses on:

* Increasing Indian and other international students in the U.K. and English language teaching overseas

* Ensuring “clearer, more accessible” information and advice tailored to international students’ needs

* Improving the application process for overseas students

* Improving the international student experience the academic experience

* A greater focus on the UK graduate outcomes and employability

* Identifying alternative student finance.

* Addressing market barriers to the growth of UK education exports to facilitate the expansion of transnational education

* Exploring options for a global UK alumni network.

The U.K. Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said the Strategy reflected a global outlook in relation to education: “Our world-class education is a vital part of our economy and society, and we want to support universities, schools, colleges and all aspects of the education sector to thrive across the globe.”

The U.K. government and education providers will focus on developing grater international education opportunities in India as well as Indonesia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to reinforce this message in a planned visit to India later this year.

Welcoming the Strategy, Chief Executive Emma Lancaster said, “As one of the leading providers of international education providing pathway and foundation programmes with universities around the world, we are delighted to see the U.K. continue to take a positive approach to the opportunities for expanding high-quality international education.

Indian students have long looked to the U.K. and its excellent universities as a place of opportunity but if we are to achieve our potential to be global leaders in international education then we have to work hard to remove barriers to study and support areas of opportunity. This means we need policies and practices that welcome international students in word and deed, from the point they begin to consider study options and apply for study places and visas through to their experiences and support after graduation via post study work and entrepreneurship.”

The Strategy also focuses for the first time on:

* Identifying and resolving barriers that prevent the recognition of online and blended learning internationally, an area of growing importance to international education.

CEO Emma Lancaster also praised the recognition of opportunities which might be available to students in this area.

“Throughout the pandemic, education around the world has had to rapidly develop its online education offer to support students unable to travel or to participate in in-person teaching due to public health restrictions. But the importance of blended and online learning should not be limited to responding to emergencies. Through our own experience of new online initiatives around international student induction, study skills support, and academic English language development focused on particular subjects areas we have seen how valuable this approach is for students in complementing a face-to-face experience and helping to improve their confidence and attainment. Without a doubt, we will be learning from and building on this experience and are already working on new initiatives in this area, guided by those who already have academic expertise in this area like Dr David LeFevre and our specialist online education company Insendi which already works with leading global universities such as ETH Zurich and Johns Hopkins in the United States to deliver leading-edge executive education online. It is our ambition that this quality of experience can be expanded to include other international students, both in support of studies in the U.K. and through new programmes that meet their needs and aspirations.”

The Strategy is expected to play a crucial role in the development of education and the U.K. economy after the pandemic. As Minister for Exports Graham Stuart explains: “It’s vital we help the UK’s world-renowned education industry to build back better by exporting our brilliant goods, services, skills and innovation across the globe.”

The U.K. International Education Strategy was first published in March 2019 and was welcomed as a more positive and coordinated approach to international education, reinforced by the reintroduction of post study work visas for international students in the U.K. It is a joint report from the Department for Education and the Department for International Trade with cross-government support, and has been developed with input from the U.K. education sector, international students and the International Education Champion, Sir Steve Smith. The government will work on implementation with bodies such as UCAS, the U.K. Council for International Student Affairs, the Office for Students, Universities U.K. International and the Confederation of British Industry as well as pathway providers and international students themselves.