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The UK Government has launched a new International Education Strategy

On 16 March 2019, the UK Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for International Trade (DIT) jointly published a new International Education Strategy. The ambitious goal set out in the Strategy is to increase the number of international students studying in the UK by more than 30%, namely from 460 000 international higher education (HE) students to 600 000, by, amongst others, reaching out to global partners in Asia, Africa and Latin America, especially in the wake of Brexit. This is expected to help increase the income generated by education export and transnational activities to GBP 35 billion (approximately EUR 40 billion) by 2030, thus representing a 75% rise compared to the current annual contribution of GBP 20 million (EUR 23 million).

The main provisions contained in the Strategy include, amongst others:

  • an unlimited number of international students who can study in the UK;
  • an extended post-study work opportunity period lasting 6 months for undergraduate and master’s students and 12 months for PhD students;
  • ways of supporting international students into employment;
  • a new International Education Champion aiming at creating strong overseas partnerships.

The Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Chris Skidmore, expressed his support to the Strategy at the International Higher Education Forum organised by Universities UK International (UUKi) on 27 March 2019.

The new measures have been greeted relatively positively by education organisations in the UK, such as UUKi and the British Council, with however some reservations. For example, according to the Director of UUK International, the post-study work period should have been extended to 2 years – the EU standard – instead of 6 or 12 months, and “the way the UK is promoted internationally as a study destination” should entail an even more enhanced cooperation among universities, the government and international HE agencies.

UK Government – Department for Education