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New Report Underlines Importance of International Education in the UK

29 June 2016

 A major new report released today by Exporting Education UK reveals the importance of the international education sector to the UK economy and highlights the adverse effects of recent government policy. The report recommends that the UK develops a strong, consistent and clear ‘offer’ to international students in order to reverse the decline in their numbers and secure the significant economic contribution which these students bring to the country.

ExEdUK and Parthenon-EY’s report ‘Supporting International Education in the UK’ also shows fully for the first time the diverse and interconnected nature of provision in the education sector, and the importance to international students of smooth transitions between courses. Independent providers play a pivotal role in this process with the lion’s share of flexible provision and increasingly popular pathway programmes for international students, but have suffered the most from recent drops in applications from outside Europe.

The overall number of international students in the UK has declined since 2011, which the report shows is partially the result of the Home Office’s recent immigration policies and the government target to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands. This drop in student numbers has been accompanied by a significant reduction in the number of institutions licensed to sponsor them and a compliance system which those remaining have found to be increasingly onerous and unpredictable.

In a new and startling analysis, the report estimates that the direct impact of immigration policy since 2011/12 has been a loss of £1.1bn to the UK economy, and that the failure to match global growth rates in international education will have incurred an opportunity cost of £8bn by 2016/17.

Alex Proudfoot, Chief Executive, Study UK said:

“We already knew international education to be one of our best export earners, but this report shows both the true scale and value of the sector, as well as the great opportunity we face as a country to be the world’s top study destination. It is clear from the report’s thoughtful analysis, however, that we will not capitalise fully on this opportunity unless we work as a sector and with government to make a strong, consistent and clear offer to international students.

“One of the most attractive qualities of UK education is our diversity and our flexibility in supporting students as individuals through their educational journey. This report should give the government cause for concern that this very diversity and flexibility is being threatened by an overly onerous and inflexible visa compliance regime. We strongly support the report’s recommendations for greater consistency and transparency within an immigration system which must be robust but recognise the huge contribution that international education providers and their students make to this country.”

 

The full report is available to read here

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