Following eight years of fighting a “losing battle” to attract students from other countries, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Students in the UK has launched an inquiry report on how to increase recruitment overall.
Among the 12 recommendations in the report, the APPG suggests the government sets a “clear and ambitious target” to grow international student numbers supported by a cross-departmental strategy.
It also recommends the government remove students from targets to reduce net migration.
“For too long, the drive to reduce net migration has trumped the growth of our world-class education system,” the report reads.
Our campuses, local economies and global standing are suffering as a result,” the report continues, calling for this “self-defeating” course to be reversed.
A clearly labelled and attractive post-study work visa allowing up to two years work experience should also be introduced, as well as changes to visa pathway and immigration rules.
The current system is “perceived negatively” by prospective international students, the report highlights.
“We need to press the reset button, establish an ambitious strategy to increase recruitment, put new policies in place, and send out a clear message that international students are welcome in the UK,” Paul Blomfield MP, co-chair of the International Students APPG, said.
“Increasingly restrictive policies and procedures over the last eight years have discouraged many international students from applying to the UK,” he added, saying that the report offers a way forward for the government to renewed competitiveness for the UK’s “world-class” universities and colleges.
“We have few greater strengths in this country than our universities,” Blomfield commented.
“The good news is, that we are a market leader. The better news is that the market is growing. The problem is that our relative position is slipping.
“Whilst our competitors have viewed the opportunities presented in a growing market, developed strategies to increase numbers dramatically, our recruitment has flatlined,” he noted.
“In a growing market, that is a failure.”
President of the UK Council for International Student Affairs and International Students APPG co-chair, Lord Bilimoria, said it is time for a completely new approach.
Read more : Viggo Stacey : PIE News : 06 November 2018