Led by former Universities minister and chair of Cross Party Universities Group, Chris Skidmore MP, the commission will seek to develop a new International Education Strategy 2.0, as a result of the changes to the geopolitical landscape since the original strategy was launched in 2019.
Skidmore – responsible for publishing and devising the first International Education Strategy as Universities minister in 2019 – will officially launch the commission at an event on 14 November.
Three years after launching the first strategy – with the 600,000 international student target met a decade ahead of schedule – the sector is “in need of a new framework”, Skidmore said ahead of the launch.
“Now more than ever before the sector needs a clear vision of what our international education strategy needs to be,” he noted.
“With a new strategy needs to come greater recognition that we must have a more granular and sustainable approach to international education – one that doesn’t just treat students as numbers on a spreadsheet but can deliver the best possible outcomes for every individual – including, crucially, for domestic UK students.
“At the same time, with other countries outpacing the UK with more attractive post study work visas, we need to wake up to the fact that international students are part of the solution, and not the problem, to future UK success.
“That’s why I have decided to establish this International Education Commission to bring the sector together to set out clearly what is needed, and the policies and frameworks that should be promoted by the department if we have a chance of sustaining our international student pathways for the future.”
Oxford International Education Group is providing support, including the secretariat for the commission, with institutional representatives from across the UK also involved.
Both Skidmore and Oxford International have been heavily involved in the development of an international education strategy for London this year.
Among the challenges and opportunities the commission is hoping to address are: a future student number target; which countries should be prioritised for student pathways and research collaboration; sustainable recruitment strategies; future UK visa offers; and the continued competitive international offer the UK has.
The group will also work to ensure international students are fully integrated on campus and how student welfare and success can be prioritised.
“Universities need greater support across government to maintain our globally attractive international student offer”
With any student number any increases, necessary accommodation and support services must be put in place, the partners added.
“International students are vital to the social and economic success of the UK and ensuring we remain an outwardly focused and engaging nation that remains relevant to the modern international world,” Skidmore added.
“Thankfully our universities have stepped up to deliver on this vision, yet they need greater support across government to maintain our globally attractive international student offer and engagement with the world as UK higher education is rightly regarded as the jewel in the UK crown and it opens many doors and is the basis for many opportunities for UK plc and its citizens.”
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