David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, starts the strategy on a personal note: “I have visited middle income nations such as Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil, which are experiencing a surge in the number of young people. They want to effect a massive expansion of their education systems and they want to do so fast. This is a huge opportunity for us and one we must embrace.”
Sustainable financing system
In its report, the UK government shares which are the prime target markets for Britain. Together with the British Council and UK Trade and Investment, the government will communicate the UK education offer in China, India, the US, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, South Korea, Russia and emerging European countries.
The UK government congratulates itself with the effective reforms. “Our reforms at all levels of education have excited interest from across the world, with the OECD concluding recently that Britain is the first country in Europe to have achieved a sustainable system for financing higher education. At present 75% of our educational export income comes from international students studying in the UK.”
Students bring in cash
Overseas students make a huge contribution to the UK’s economy, the report calculates. It is estimated that overseas students in 2001/12 paid £3.9bn in tuition fees, net of scholarships, and brought in another £6.3bn in living expenses.
The market for international education has grown sharply, as has the competition from other countries. Still the UK thinks it realistic for numbers of international students to grow by 15-20% over the next five years.
To attract students, the UK launched the Education is GREAT Britain campaign. The report states that the country “Must show that the UK values international students, will provide a warm welcome and support while they are here and will keep in touch after they go home.”
In brief the strategy covers:
- a warm welcome for international students: explaining that there is no cap on the number of international students who can come to the UK, and supporting students when things go wrong in their home country
- support for transnational education: supporting British schools and colleges operating overseas, developing ‘end-to-end’ English language training, and strengthening quality assurance
- leading the world in education technology: actively encouraging development of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and launching a design call, through the Technology Strategy Board, on commercialising education technology
- a new relationship with emerging powers: prioritising UK engagement with key partners, doubling investment in development higher education partnerships and expanding the number of Chevening scholarships for study in the UK
- building the UK brand and seizing opportunities: developing a new ‘Education is GREAT Britain’ campaign, and the Education UK Unit will help build consortia to take up high value opportunities overseas.