UK Government announces boost for international study

New measures aimed at attracting more overseas students, boosting access to global student exchanges for thousands of people, and supporting international education partnerships have been announced by the Government today.

Following the announcement in December of the new £110 million Turing scheme, a new website has gone live today with funding and eligibility details so that universities, colleges and schools to prepare for bids to open in Spring. The pioneering scheme will support students from across the UK and from all backgrounds to take advantage of the benefits of studying and working abroad from September 2021.

To help level up opportunities for more people, the scheme will look to target students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The updated International Education Strategy, led by the Department for Education (DfE) and the Department for International Trade (DIT), will work alongside the scheme, focused on supporting the education sector to build back better from the pandemic by boosting global growth opportunities. 

This updated strategy reaffirms the Government’s commitment to increase the amount generated from education exports, such as fees and income from overseas students and English language teaching abroad, to £35bn a year, and sustainably recruit at least 600,000 international students to the UK by 2030.

It also outlines plans for a new international teaching qualification (iQTS) so teachers around the globe can train to world-leading domestic standards and support growing international demand for high quality teaching. It also highlights recent changes including streamlining application processes and boosting job prospects for international students.

Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan said: 

“In these unprecedented times, having a proactive global education agenda is more important than ever so we can build back better from the pandemic. Our world-class education is a vital part of our economy and society, and we want to support universities, schools, colleges and all aspects of the education sector to thrive across the globe. 

“We are committed to making sure our students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, can benefit from studying and working abroad. Working with the British Council, we will open up the globe to our young people, and I look forward to seeing the exciting and enriching opportunities the Turing scheme will bring.

“I am also pleased to launch initiatives to enhance the experience of international students at our universities, from the moment they apply, to the first steps of their careers.” 

Minister for Exports Graham Stuart MP, said:

“The UK offers world-class education, a global reputation and a strong presence in international markets, with education exports, such as in EdTech and transnational education reaching £23.3 billion in 2018. 

“I’m proud to lead the Department for International Trade’s education work and our International Education Strategy aims to help the sector recover from the impact of the pandemic. It’s vital we help the UK’s world-renowned education industry to build back better by exporting our brilliant goods, services, skills and innovation across the globe.”

Schools, colleges and universities can now access details on the Turing Scheme including funding rates and eligibility criteria to help them to prepare applications for the new scheme ahead of the applications window opening in the next few weeks. 

The updated Strategy’s measures to boost the UK’s world-renowned education exports include: 

  • Launching a consultation for a new international teaching qualification, International Qualified Teacher Status (iQTS), to enable teachers around the world to train to domestic standards, supporting the sector to meet growing international demand for its high quality teacher training; 
  • Promoting UK teaching methods for supporting those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) internationally;  
  • Setting out priority countries for the International Education Champion, Sir Steve Smith, to work with, promoting growth for exports and addressing any barriers in the global market.

International Education Champion, Sir Steve Smith, said: 

“I warmly welcome this revised International Education Strategy. Not only does it show the progress we have made since the launch of the original strategy in March 2019, but it outlines concrete measures to support the entire education sector across all parts of the UK to achieve the goals of at least 600,000 international students coming to the UK, and educational exports rising to £35bn by 2030.

“Changes to the visa arrangements, the new iQTS, a focus on a set of priority markets and the launch of the Turing mobility scheme will all support making the UK an even more successful and attractive educational powerhouse.”

UK education providers can take advantage of schemes such as UK Export Finance’s General Export Facility, an export guarantee scheme that can be used by firms to help cover the everyday costs linked to exporting.

Further export support includes enhancing the international student experience from application to employment, connecting international demand for chartered body qualifications to UK education suppliers, and identifying specific Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) export opportunities for UK businesses.

Attracting inward investment will also form part of the sector recovery plans, with the government building on its promotion of the UK Education Technology sector and expanding into new sub-sectors, further stimulating foreign direct investment into all corners of the UK.

The International Education Strategy is supported by the Government’s ‘Education is GREAT’ trade promotion campaign, which represents the UK’s offer of education provision to prospective international students or trade partners in other countries. As part of the campaign, DIT has developed a virtual programme to support the global recovery of the education sector’s international activity.

Chief Executive of Association of Colleges, David Hughes said:

“The Turing scheme opens the world’s door to work and study placements for college students. This is an important part of ‘levelling up’ the life chances for all of our young people – whatever their background. International mobility motivates and inspires young people to understand their place in the world, develop their life skills and build confidence and ambition. I strongly encourage colleges new to international exchanges to consider participating in Turing and hope that those who have been involved before can use this to extend opportunities for students.”

Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, said:

“I am very supportive of the International Education Strategy, which represents the next step in a joint effort by Government and the education sector to build on the international success of our education system and our attractiveness to international students. This approach has delivered real benefits already, including the introduction of the graduate route, and improvements to the visa system. Despite a very difficult year, interest in UK study has grown as a result.

“The strategy is not only about attracting students to the UK. We particularly welcome the launch of the Turing Scheme, which will create new opportunities for students in UK universities to gain valuable international experience. We know these opportunities enable graduates to develop the skills employers need, and that the benefits are most pronounced for those from less advantaged backgrounds.

“We look forward to continuing to be partners, working with our members, Government and others across the sector, to deliver the strategy.”

Colin Riordan, Cardiff University Vice-Chancellor, said:

“The government’s commitment to outward mobility for UK students is very much to be welcomed. The new Turing scheme will help our students achieve more in their degrees and become more employable, but the benefits are more than economic. Anybody who is involved in outward student mobility knows that spending time abroad can be a positively life-changing experience for our students.

“Studying abroad  enhances their intercultural awareness, their language skills, their tolerance and their professional networks. It also boosts confidence, self-awareness, independence, curiosity, flexibility and adaptability. The focus on widening participation in Turing is a major positive. The UK has never had its own, government-funded outward mobility scheme. Turing presents a historic opportunity to shape our own destiny, and we should seize it.”

Kate Ewart-Biggs, British Council interim Chief Executive, said:

“The Strategy is a welcome route map for where UK international education should put its efforts in the coming years. Importantly, the new Turing scheme, which the British Council will help to deliver, will enable thousands of students to study around the world. It will target and provide support to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, making life-changing opportunities accessible to everyone across the country.”

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