Visa Crunch

The UK Meets Ambitious Target Of Attracting 6 Lakh Students

The UK government’s Overseas Education Strategy in 2019, established an optimistic objective of luring 6,00,000 overseas students to the country by 2030. This aim was a substantial increase of 30 per cent. But, that now appears to be far off the mark.

According to English UK, which represents language schools, there were 5,08,614 international language students in the UK in 2019 throughout 1,839,655 student weeks. This equates to 41,810 full-time equivalent students during a 44-week academic year – or 35,377 FTE over 52 weeks. However, the Independent Schools Council reports 28,910 international students enrolled in UK independent schools in 2019.

When these pupils are included in the total, the UK has already surpassed the 6,00,000 mark. Integrating students from the route and further education colleges would increase the number by tens of thousands. This comes as brilliant news for all who recognize the value of foreign education in the UK, both for universities and for local communities, which benefit from the presence of international students to the tune of £28.9 billion each year.

International students who stay in the UK after graduation contribute much more, with many going on to become entrepreneurs. However, what these data indicate about the possibility of continued expansion is of enormous strategic national significance.

After the scars of Covid-19 and the Brexit transition have healed, the United Kingdom will require a new offer to the world. Major industries where it has the resources to be a world leader will be crucial. Education that serves both local communities and the world at large, according to others, should be at the top of that list.

The newly reinstated Graduate Route will enable international students with UK degrees to stay and work in the country for two years post-degree or three years after PhD. However, as with any other area of possibilities, there is no room for complacency.

Following the Covid lockdown, Australia is unlocking its borders and adopting extensive promotional efforts with highly appealing post-study work opportunities. It reportedly outdid the UK offer by lengthening post-study work rights for taught master’s students from two to three years, and it is considering granting graduate workplace protections to international students.

The United States, Canada, and many other European countries recognize the value that talented overseas students offer to their economies and workforces. As a member of a global organization, I have witnessed the highs and lows of international education policy in a variety of countries. It is all too tempting to believe that the UK has now resolved this issue.

In the past, international students were caught up in an ugly immigration debate, in which students and universities were routinely maligned. The UK must avoid this in the future by instilling in the public and political consciousness the critical importance of international students in achieving larger ambitious priorities such as levelling up, job creation, innovation, course depth, multiculturalism, and generating prosperity for indigenous communities.

It is troubling that, as we approach 2022, there are statistics for 2019, which was, of course, before the pandemic wreaked such havoc on international schooling. Another significant development in the intervening years was the official decision to classify European Union students as “foreign students,” including in terms of fees.

Setting even more aspirational set targets that are both demanding and reflective of global circumstances should be a collaborative effort between higher education and government. A three-year planning perspective should be established and reviewed on a frequent basis to account for both problems and opportunities.

Scholars and researchers drawn to the Jenner Labs at the University of Oxford pushed the development of a game-changing vaccine. Exceptional worldwide potential can be tapped further if forward-thinking UK colleges usher in a new era of online, hybrid, and global learning.

UK should be ahead of other countries in terms of measures that encourage international graduates to work, invest, and establish businesses in the UK.

The nation should strive to be major players in listening to student feedback and improving in real time on topics ranging from virtual internships to targeted employability and well-being assistance. This seems to be an area where the UK can truly be a leading player, but it will not get accomplished just by speaking.

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