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HEi-think: Evidence needed from HEIs on barriers to growing UK’s HE export potential

As the Higher Education Commission gathers evidence for its inquiry into the export potential of UK HE, it is particularly keen to hear from HEIs about barriers to international growth as Brexit approaches, says Dr Mary Bishop, HE Commissioner, TEF Panellist, and JISC HE & Student Experience Expert.

 

With globalisation a key driver of change, UK higher education retaining its reputation for gold standard provision is vital in the international market, particularly as we head towards Brexit.

The Higher Education Commission has recently launched its sixth cross-party inquiry to investigate the export potential of UK HE, the economic implications of Brexit and the government’s 2020 £30bn export target (currently not on target!).  Although the HE sector remains strong as an exporter of education services, both in attracting international students to study in the UK and through transnational education provision, it is imperative that this strength is developed and not weakened in the impending wake of Brexit with all its implications in terms of attracting students, research funding and the potential for enriching student experience by reciprocal student exchange.

The Commission has already taken evidence from some key stakeholders – including the Director General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities on the importance of scholarship for accessibility; the CEO of UKCISA focusing on portfolio and student experience; and the Vice Chair of the British Universities International Liaison Association (BUILA) around the impact of the relentless number of changes in Home Office visa regulation. 

This inquiry is Co-Chaired by Professor Simon Marginson, the Director of the Centre for Global Higher Education; and Conservative Peer Lord Norton of Louth.  Professor Marginson commented: “Through the regulation of supply and demand, especially restrictions to student visas and post-study work rights, the industry has been held down. The proportion of students coming from China continues to grow but that won’t go on forever and there have been sharp falls in students from most other countries, such as India and Saudi Arabia. Yet this is a crucial sector for the economy; the second largest in UK services exports.”

With a focus on how this international export market can weather the economic implications of Brexit and reach its export target, and concerned by loss of market share, the perceived lack of welcome given by the visa regime, and an increasingly aggressive market with a real change in dynamic over recent years, the Commission is seeking evidence from Higher Education Institutions.

In particular evidence is sought around current barriers to growing British Higher Education internationally as well as the industry support mechanisms it needs to thrive in a highly competitive global market.  With contributions already received from the LSE, Warwick University, Reading University and the University of Portsmouth, the Commission is keen to take further evidence of experience and perspectives around these issues. 

The inquiry call for evidence terms of reference are available at the Policy Connect website Please contact Pooja Kumari, Research Manager pooja.kumari@policyconnect.org.uk.

jegas / 123RF
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