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- Study UK marks the passing of English UK Chief Executive Eddie Byers Study UK would like to convey our deepest respect and gratitude towards Eddie Byers, Chief Executive of our sister association English UK, and our sadness at his passing on Tuesday.
Chairman Simon Cleaver and Chief Executive Alex Proudfoot made the following statement on behalf of Study UK's staff and board members:
"We are all shocked and saddened by the death of our colleague and friend Eddie Byers this week. Everyone who had the pleasure of meeting Eddie will already know that he was a deeply intelligent, generous and compassionate man. We will miss his ready wit and his ever steady support. The whole education sector will miss his wisdom and his leadership. Our hearts go out to his wife Samantha and his family at this very painful time."
- Important UK college pathways for international students must be protected
Joint statement by Study UK, NUS, English UK, UKCISA, BAISIS and ExEd UK
Changes today to the Tier 4 rules for study visas mean that thousands of hard-working, fee-paying international students who have chosen a UK college or language centre for their education will be denied the opportunity to extend their stay for a higher level course or work experience. The UK will be denied their talent and their continued investment in our cultural and economic future.
Young people who pay thousands of pounds and travel thousands of miles for their education need to feel confident that their host country will offer them stability and security while they are pursuing it. Forcing students to leave the UK in order to apply for their next course will fatally undermine this confidence, while causing them considerable and unnecessary upheaval and expense. When this change is combined with the recent trend of questionable decisions by visa officers on the 'credibility' of applicants, many students will simply choose instead to go to a country with a more reliable visa system. The UK has made more than a hundred rule changes since 2008, which can leave students already here unable to complete the pathway they had originally intended to follow.
International students who choose a college or language centre instead of – or before – university will do so for good reasons: a desire to learn English with specialists, for industry links, smaller class sizes and pastoral support, or a progressive approach to building qualifications. It is the flexibility and diversity of our educational pathways which makes the UK so attractive to students. Today's changes will undermine our ability to deliver these pathways and will diminish the UK's international offer. This is a great shame for those students who could have enjoyed a world-class British education, and a great loss to their colleges, to the universities they would have progressed to, and to the country as a whole – economically, academically, and culturally.
The Government has provided no evidence to support the need for these changes, and no justification except that they will "reduce net migration". That students are included in the migration statistics is a problem in itself. Students are not migrants and research shows 80 per cent of the UK public do not see them as migrants – yet they are caught up in the Government’s attempts to reduce immigration. The result of this is to reduce the UK's international standing, damaging our £18bn international education sector, and hitting our economy.
Changes which do nothing but discourage students from coming to the UK stand in stark contrast to the Government's public commitment that all genuine students are welcome. We call on the Prime Minister to uphold this commitment by seriously considering removing students from his net migration target, and by establishing a working group to review the UK’s full range of educational pathways, to ensure that our offer to genuine students remains internationally competitive. It is essential to both our education sector and economy that we keep the door open to the international talent we need to succeed in the modern, globalised world.
- Independent providers call for comprehensive student protection scheme in the UK Study UK welcomes the publication by HEFCE today of the 'Statement of Good Practice on higher education course changes and closures', and we were pleased to work with colleagues across the higher education sector to draw together existing good practice in developing it.
The statement expresses an important ambition for all HE providers to recognise and protect the interests of students when unforeseen or unfortunate events lead to changes in provision. It is regrettable, therefore, that the current regulatory framework makes it impossible for independent providers to achieve continuity of provision in many cases – notably for international students, whom independent providers are unreasonably and inexplicably barred from 'teaching out' in the event that the Home Office withdraws their Tier 4 sponsor licence.
The recent Higher Education Green Paper ‘Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice’ has called necessary attention to the challenge of effective student protection. Study UK urges the Government and the whole sector to work together to design a comprehensive system of protections with universal coverage for UK and international students.
Study UK Chief Executive Alexander Proudfoot said:
“We must build on this voluntary Statement of Good Practice, realising its vision for supporting higher education providers and their students across the sector, while meeting the challenge of the Green Paper head on.
“The last Government aimed to put ‘students at the heart of the system’, but international students in particular have waited for too long for their interests to be put at the heart of our regulatory framework. After major political and structural change, some volatility in the sector is inevitable. But the investment of time, energy and money that students make in their higher education is on such a unique scale that we must do more to protect them from such events.
“The sector has shown that it is ready to step up and take the lead on this issue. We now need both BIS and the Home Office to join us and complete the regulatory changes required to make our ambitions a reality.”
1. The statement of good practice is available to download below. It was developed by a working group of representatives of HEFCE, GuildHE, the Association of Colleges, the National Union of Students, Study UK and the Independent Universities Group.