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Moving the HE landscape’s quality contours … again

The government's announcement of a major review of the National Student Survey signals a worrying shift in the HE regulatory landscape, warns Jon Scott, higher education consultant and former Pro Vice-Chancellor (student experience) at the University of Leicester.

Government plans mark a seismic shift in higher education policy

Statements from ministers this week have made it clear that higher education in England is facing significant reforms, re-setting its focus towards helping to plug the UK's skills gaps and rebuilding the economy. Fariba Soetan, Policy Lead for Research and Innovation at the National Centre for Universities and Business, argues that the proposed changes bring a welcome focus on graduate outcomes and supporting the careers of young people.

UK universities affirm 'deep commitment' to high quality TNE

Universities UK and GuildHE have commissioned the Quality Assurance Agency to develop a new approach to reviewing and enhancing the quality of UK TNE. QAA will consult on a new review method later this year and will launch a programme of in-country enhancement activity in 2021.

Cassandra calling out higher education

After a week of largely disappointing news for UK higher education, Nicola Owen, Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) at Lancaster University, fears that gloomy forecasts for the future of the sector may prove to be uncomfortably accurate.

Whatuni award winners announced

Loughborough University has been named University of the Year for the second time in three years in the latest Whatuni Student Choice Awards .

UK needs new ambitious targets to grow intake of international students, MPs say

The government should set "clear and ambitious targets" to grow the number of international students studying in the UK, MPs have said.

A report from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for International Students calls for a new cross-departmental strategy to restore growth in overseas recruitment and halt "eight years of relative decline". The strategy should include removing international students from immigration targets, it says.

The report makes 12 recommendations which aim to restore the UK's competitiveness in the international sector.

Paul Blomfield MP, co-chair of the International Students APPG, said: “Increasingly restrictive policies and procedures over the last eight years have discouraged many international students from applying to the UK.

“We need to press the reset button, establish an ambitious strategy to increase recruitment, put new policies in place, and send out a clear message that international students are welcome in the UK.

“Our report offers a way forward for the Government, and a route-map to renewed competitiveness for our world-class universities and colleges. I urge Ministers to look carefully at our recommendations and step up to the challenge.”

Commenting on the report, Cobra Beer Founder and Chairman, President of the UK Council for International Student Affairs and International Students APPG co-chair, Lord Bilimoria said:

“Britain is losing in the battle to attract talented and committed international students from around the world. Eight years of prioritising an impossible target using misleading statistics, over our economy and world-leading institutions has left the UK’s position as the second largest destination for international students in jeopardy. It’s time for us to move on and target growth in the number of international students.”

The report recommends:

  • Government should set a clear and ambitious target to grow international student numbers which should be supported by a cross-departmental strategy focused on recruitment and the student experience. Government should then remove students from targets to reduce net-migration to successfully facilitate increasing numbers.
  • Government should offer a clearly labelled and attractive post-study work visa which allows up to two years of work experience in the UK. This visa should not be restricted to licenced Tier 2 sponsors, or by job type or salary.
  • Government should pursue an EU deal for unrestricted movement of students and researchers, as part of a close relationship between European universities and research programmes, and provide urgent clarity for EU nationals studying and researching in the UK on what changes they will experience in visa and funding rights.
  • Immigration rules should facilitate and encourage students to study in the UK and at multiple study levels within the UK education system.
  • Diversity is a key strength in the UK’s offer to international students. 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 students such as work experience schemes and industry engagement.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Messages for international students regarding the UK should be welcoming, clear, simple and consistent. These should be developed in cooperation between government and the education sector.
  • The UK should establish an international graduate and alumni strategy which would support international
    students’ 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.
  • Education institutions, local government and local business should come together to attract, plan for, support and integrate international students in the local community.

 

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