The UK government recently released an update on the International Education Strategy, which aims to address two main changes that occurred since its initial launch in 2019 — striking a new deal with the European Union (EU) since the Brexit and ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The March 2019 version of the strategy had two main ambitions, which they aim to accomplish by 2030:
- Increasing education exports up to £35 billion annually
- Pushing the number of international higher education students in the UK to 600,000 annually
With the recent political and global health turmoil, achieving these goals will be difficult without the much-needed changes and update.
Notable Updates on International Education Strategy
The publication included reports on the notable progress since 2019, including the following:
Introduction of Graduate Route
The launch of the new Graduate route allows international students to take advantage of extending their stay in the UK to seek job opportunities and land employment after they finished their degrees. This route gives undergraduate and master’s students additional two years of stay (three if pursuing a PhD).
Launch of New Immigration Route
As part of the new deal with the EU, the International Education Strategy introduced new points-based immigration routes, including Student and Child routes, streamlining and improving the international student application process.
Student and Child Routes
The new Student route, introduced in October 2020, aims to simplify the application process of international students, including allowing short-term students to attend classes without the need to secure a short-term Student visa.
Additionally, individuals aged 16 and above can apply for a student visa in the UK with a sponsoring institution registered in the country. (Check the list of registered sponsoring institutions here.) To become eligible, students need to score 70 points. Since these points are non-tradeable, students need to meet all the requirements as stipulated here.
The UK government also launched the Turing Scheme, an international education scheme named after the late English mathematician and computer scientist. While the scheme will begin in September 2021, it already has an existing website that details the changes on the Erasmus+ replacement.
Erasmus+ is mainly associated with higher education. The Turing scheme will have a bigger scope, as it will go beyond higher ed.
For one, the Turing scheme is open for all—not only for British nationals but also includes international students. This means international students can study and have a work placement within four weeks to 12 months. Funding will cover study and work placements, which can either be short term placements (from three days to two months) and long-term placement (two to six months).
While the Department for Education (DfE) is yet to publish the details of the assessment criteria, the website states that all applications will be chosen based on how well the projects align with the Turing Scheme’s core objectives.
As stated on the website, the Turing scheme “aims to provide students, learners, and pupils with the chance to develop new skills, gain vital international experience, and boost their employability.” Once in place, the Turing Scheme can provide funding to as much as 35,000 students.
Diversification at the Core
The recent updates emphasize that all the strategies can only be deemed successful in the long-term through diversification. It is the main reason why international student recruitment should have a diversified base to drive sustainable growth. Going beyond the borders is one way of increasing the number of international higher education students, which will eventually increase the value of education exports in the country.
International Education Champion Steve Smith stressed that to promote diversification, efforts will be more targeted to “priority countries,” which include India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam.
Universities Minister Michelle Doneland shared, “In these unprecedented times, having a proactive global education agenda is more important than ever so we can build back better from the pandemic.” She further added that the initiatives of the International Education Strategy will “enhance the experience of international students at our universities, from the moment they apply, to the first steps of their careers.”
MSM Unify is a student recruitment platform that connects HEIs in the UK and other markets to agents and their students around the world. Keep posted for more news and information that offers insights and an up-to-date look at international education and surrounding policies and movements worldwide.