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Australia’s ELICOS sector closed out 2018 in more or less the same overall position as the previous year but a changing student cohort signals underlying rebalances, according to full-year market figures from English Australia.
In 2018, ELICOS student numbers increased 1% to 179,300 and student weeks saw a small decline of one-tenth of a per cent, due to changing source markets and visa types used to study in Australia.
“We saw a larger increase in the volume of visitor visas”
“The average weeks are down, and we saw for the Asia Pacific relatively flatter student [numbers]… particularly from China,” explained EA chief executive Brett Blacker.
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“We saw a change in the demographics of the Americas, too; more Colombians, less Brazilians. The Brazilians tended to study a longer duration as well, and so there’s a bit of impact out of the change.”
While the combined decrease of total weeks and increase of student numbers saw the average length of stay shorten slightly to 13 weeks, economic impact continued to build, reaching $2.35 billion.
Based on responses from CRICOS-registered ELICOS providers, the figures add to those previously released by the Department of Education and Training in March, which showed ELICOS enrolments just surpassed record levels to 156,400.
English Australia figures include students on additional visa types from study, and Blacker said growth was pushed by visitor numbers, which increased 8% compared to a decrease in student visa numbers of just over half a per cent.
Overall, visitor visa holders increased to 23% of all ELICOS students, taking market share from both the study and working holiday visa categories, which Blacker said also contributed to the small decline in student weeks.
“We saw a larger increase in the volume of visitor visas and on average students study much less in terms of the period of study,” he said.
By source regions, all but Europe increased, with the Middle East and Africa leading growth at 9%, albeit of far smaller base. The Asia Pacific, meanwhile, saw a mild 1% increase and Europe experienced its second consecutive double-digit percentage decrease, down 11%.
Blacker told The PIE News external factors were having the most significant impact on European numbers considering Australia as a study destination.
“There was a period where we had growth [from Europe], and that was when most of the Brexit factors were in place. If anything, we were just taking some of the market share at that time from the UK,” he said.
“We’ve seen that trend some time, and it will continue; it’s the economics of it”
“At some point, there was going to be an equilibrium.”
Blacker added more students were choosing to undertake ELICOS studies at home before going overseas for tertiary education, in a bid to reduce overall costs.
Kadi Taylor, head of strategic engagement and government relations at Navitas, agreed with Blacker’s observations, adding that while students were choosing to remain within their home country for English language studies, Australian providers were still benefiting.
“More often than not, students are studying with top quality Australian providers delivering in China, Vietnam, and other key markets,” she said.
“We’ve seen that trend some time, and it will continue; it’s the economics of it. The student can stay at home a bit long but still get that preparatory English language base and then come onshore.”
Changing market demands have also resulted in providers looking to new revenue streams, Taylor said, and the English language study groups market was seeing substantial growth both for ELICOS and as a taster for other levels of study overseas.
Year to April figures from DET indicate onshore ELICOS student numbers will continue modest growth for 2019, up 1% from the previous year.
Plans to establish a much-awaited binational university of applied sciences in Kenya fronted by the government of Germany have been put on hold, following a decision to draft a new concept document for the institution first mooted four years ago.
The concept document for the Eastern African-German University of Applied Sciences, drafted by the Ministry of Education in Kenya will be shared with German implementing agencies including the country’s embassy in Nairobi, the German Academic Exchange Programme (DAAD) and proposed partner universities.
“The future German partner universities await the new proposal”
The bodies must wait for the completion of the document, which required input from various government agencies according to Ursula Koos, head of Cultural Affairs section at the German Embassy Nairobi.
“A new project concept note had been written, but the coordination process within the Ministry of Education is still on-going,” she said.
“The German Embassy, DAAD and the future German partner universities await the new proposal,” the official told The PIE News, without disclosing further details.
Once the document is out it will inform the next course of action in efforts to fast-track setting up of the model institution, Koos noted.
The university touted as the first of its kind in the world was conceived as part bilateral of relations between Kenya and Germany to bring to Africa the German model of applied sciences in university education.
It was expected to take students from across the Eastern Africa region, hosted and financed by Kenya with a German partner university facilitating knowledge transfer, and for purposes of benchmarking.
DAAD and the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs have expressed concerns over its delay, and frustration that progress was painfully slow.
The agency lamented that plans for the university had stalled since 2017 with no progress despite the German side being ready to sign the intergovernmental agreement to set up the institution.
While lack of progress in 2017 was blamed on general elections in Kenya, the total lack of progress could not be explained according to Helmut Blumbach, then director of the DAAD Africa office in Nairobi.
While the Kenya project has stalled, plans for a similar project in north Africa between Germany and Egypt are underway.
The future of Optional Practical Training in the US has been called into question once again after a union representing STEM labour market workers, the Washington Alliance of Technology, renewed its efforts to end the program.
WashTech has been in a long dispute with the Department of Homeland Security over the OPT program, but in July the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the DHS’s 2016 STEM OPT decision would reopen a previous case from 1992.
“Millions of American citizens are ready, willing and able to take those jobs”
The latest suit is seeking to sue the US government for its 1992 regulation creating the 12-month OPT program for international students, and the 2016 regulation permitting eligible STEM graduates to apply for an extension of their OPT program by 24 months.
An extension of an international student’s visa, OPT allows graduates to work in an area related to their study for a total of 12 months, or longer if they have a STEM degree.
But earlier in 2019, Republican member of the House of Representatives for Arizona Paul Gosar introduced a bill to eliminate the OPT program.
In a recent letter, Gosar asked president Trump to end the OPT program by executive order.
“OPT hurts American citizens: debt-laden college grads are being denied employment opportunities, US white-collar professionals are being replaced by foreign labour and US women and minority STEM candidates are being shut out of US jobs,” Gosar wrote.
Millions of taxpaying, hardworking people from across the US “profoundly disagree” that the OPT is good for America and needed for US competitiveness, he claimed.
“The truth is, millions of American citizens are ready, willing and able to take those jobs, they just need a chance of employment,” he argued.
“OPT removes that chance for millions of Americans.”
OPT demand grew by 400% in the eight years between 2004 and 2016, and it was the primary driver behind the 1.5% increase in international student numbers in 2018 according to an Open Doors report.
However, a National Foundation for American Policy study has found that evidence shows that the OPT program does not take jobs away from US workers.
The organisation said that the current administration’s policies of preventing graduates to work in the US “would be harmful to the American economy”.
University at Albany dean for international education and vice provost for global strategy Harvey Charles noted that many prospective international students choose the US on the basis that they can find employment in their areas after graduating.
“This program is very important to prospective and current international students,” he told The PIE News.
“While not all international students pursue practical training in the US, many of them do and in a way, it is an extension of the training they receive in the classroom, hence their interest in it.”
All leading industrial nations have policies that seek to attract and retain the highly educated professionals who are not native-born, Charles added, while the OPT program offers US employers a “wider pool of prospective employees”.
“The biggest beneficiaries of OPT are US employers because they are able to leverage the skills and knowledge of the best of international student graduates to create better products, and in the end, to become more profitable,” he added.
“We need to continue to persuade international students to bring their talent to our classroom”
Heather Stewart, NAFSA’s counsel and director of immigration policy, told The PIE that the WashTech lawsuit has a complicated procedural history dating back to 2008 and that NAFSA is monitoring the case as it evolves.
“OPT serves as an important recruitment tool as it helps to ensure that the country remains the premier destination for higher education,” said Steward.
“We need to continue to persuade international students to bring their talent to our classrooms, communities and country, [and] NAFSA will continue to advocate for access to experiential learning opportunities for international students.”
In major consolidation news for the study travel sector, Kaplan International English, the ELT education division of Kaplan, has acquired Europe’s largest student placement agency, ESL Education.
The just-announced deal will also see Kaplan move into French and German language training because ESL – a well known operator in the agency space – also has an education division, Alpadia, which operates 16 adult language schools and summer camps.
The deal between Heverald, parent company ESL Education and Alpadia, and Kaplan International English, was signed on July 11 in Geneva.
This partnership will now be expanded to include all of Kaplan’s 37 English language schools
David Fougere, COO at Kaplan International English, commented, “Joining forces with ESL Education and Alpadia will strengthen Kaplan’s position in the language travel sector.
Kaplan will expand its relationship with the largest language agency in Europe allowing us to reach more students with our premium language courses.”
ESL places thousands of students each year on language courses, operating a network of 46 offices in Europe (and Panama), and headquartered out of Switzerland.
The move takes Kaplan closer to one of the behemoths of the study travel sector, EF, which notoriously operates its own network of offices and is not as reliant on education agencies for its student pipeline.
ESL Education had offered a selection of Kaplan English schools as part of its portfolio for years, the company pointed out, and this partnership will now be expanded to include all of Kaplan’s 37 English language schools.
But ESL Education will maintain its independence and broad school portfolio as part of the deal, Kaplan commented.
And Anke Menkhorst, ESL CEO, noted, “Kaplan understands the importance of maintaining our reputation for independent high-quality counselling services and for the breadth of our course offerings.”
“Kaplan understands the importance of our reputation for independent high-quality counselling”
Kaplan, which also directly recruits students for its own schools as well as working with study travel agencies around the globe, will now add the Alpadia network to its portfolio.
“By including Alpadia’s French and German language schools in our sales portfolio, we will expand our product offering to the worldwide market,” said Fougere.
Patrick Siegenthaler and Alain Vadi, co-owners of Heverald, will remain non-executive board members of the company for two years.
They commented: “We are delighted to see ESL Education and Alpadia become part of Kaplan. We have been impressed by how well our approach to what it takes to be successful in the language travel sector is aligned with Kaplan’s.
It was very important for us to see that the company we created and developed ourselves will continue to grow and thrive.”
Kaplan has ventured into the area of acquiring an agency before when it acquired Swiss company Pro Linguis in 2008 – before selling it on in 2016 to another Swiss operator.
It operates 37 English language schools in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Ireland, teaching almost 40,000 students from over 150 countries.
Chinese language proficiency is hard to find in Australians with no Chinese background, an Australian MP has said, despite China currently being Australia’s largest trading partner and accounting for almost 30% of all Australia’s exports.
During a recent speech, Labor MP Chris Bowen claimed that “out of the 25 million Australians who populate this great country… 130 people can speak Mandarin at a level good enough to do business, who aren’t of Chinese background”.
“Every child in Australia should be learning Mandarin”
The RMIT ABC Fact Check Unit investigated the claim and defined it an “educated guess,” explaining that the experts they consulted agreed it was likely to be “in the ballpark,” although there is no way to precisely calculate it.
However, founder of Chinese language school Mandarin Stars, Dawna Leung, said she wasn’t surprised by the figure.
“Every child in Australia should be learning Mandarin,” she told The PIE News.
“We need to inspire children earlier on. Right now, businesses like mine fill the gap, but we get no funding so Mandarin classes are only available to people who can afford it.”
Mandarin is most widely taught in the state of Victoria and is the fourth most popular foreign language nationally after Japanese, French and German.
“The Australian government is committed to supporting the teaching of languages other than English in Australian schools and to achieving a significant increase in student uptake in their senior secondary schooling within the next decade,” a spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Education told The PIE.
According to the department, the number of non-Chinese born students enrolled in Chinese language courses (including both Mandarin and Cantonese) at Australian universities totalled just 381 in 2017, down from 447 in 2011 but slightly higher than 2016’s 343.
The lack of people taking Mandarin at university may also be down to a perception of a lack of opportunities for non-native speakers in fields requiring Mandarin proficiency.
“For people of Chinese descent who were born in Australia or emigrated at a young age, English is their first language,” said Ping Chen, chair professor in Chinese studies at the University of Queensland, in his 2017 paper Chinese Language Teaching in Australia.
However, Chen added, due to the influence of their family environment, many of them also have relatively strong competence in Chinese, with true bilingual, bicultural talent.
“In applying for the limited number of positions requiring proficiency in Chinese, applicants with Chinese backgrounds had a higher probability of success.
“As this kind of information trickles back to school campuses, it is obviously unhelpful in strengthening non-Chinese students’ enthusiasm and determination to learn Chinese,” he added.
The evidence used to accuse thousands of international students of cheating on the TOEIC test has been defined “confused, misleading, incomplete and unsafe” in the report summarising the inquiry of the All Party Parliamentary Group created to investigate the case.
The new report, which was launched in Westminster at the presence of APPG members, Migrant Voice and representatives from the students’ group, urged the government to rectify the situation and set out a number of recommendations.
“Tens of thousands of people have spent five years living a nightmare”
“One thing that struck me throughout our hearings was that evidence from ETS – the basis for denying visas to thousands of overseas students, often with catastrophic effects – quite simply could not be relied upon,” Stephen Timms MP, chair of the APPG, said in the foreword of the report.
“The inquiry concluded that the evidence used against the students was confused, misleading, incomplete and unsafe.”
The APPG conducted four evidence sessions with students, lawyers, technical experts and third sectors, representatives. The Home Office and ETS were also invited to attend sessions but the former didn’t respond according to the report and the latter declined to attend.
“This report reveals shocking new evidence that the Home Office ignored expert advice, relied on dodgy evidence and took action against students they claimed were treated fairly,” Migrant Voice director Nazek Ramadan said.
“The result was that tens of thousands of people have spent five years living a nightmare.”
The inquiry reported “huge numbers” of anomalies, such as the lack of proof that links each recording to the person that sat the test and errors on spreadsheets created by ETS.
Professor Peter Sommer, who was instructed by Bindmans LLP in 2016 to assess the overall reliability of the evidence, explained to the APPG that: “It was unsafe for anyone to rely upon computer files created by ETS and used by the Home Office as a sole means of making a decision.”
Evidence also emerged that students on the “questionable list”, who the Home Office maintained had been given a chance to sit a new test, were reportedly sometimes included in the same list as those with “invalid” results, meaning they didn’t get a chance to clear their name.
The APPG also heard from three students affected, who highlighted the impact the allegations have had on their lives.
In addition to being unable to work in the UK or find employment back home, some students said they felt distanced from their families who don’t believe them, while others have been fighting costly legal battles and experiencing mental health issues.
“My Dad said…you cannot come back and tell me you have a fraud allegation…go and prove yourself in the courts,” one student, Raja Noman Hussain, told the APPG.
Legal representatives lamented the lack of opportunities students were given to challenge the allegations, while others pointed out that students who had had their name cleared in court still have difficulty accessing higher education.
Among the APPG’s recommendations, the report said that those who lost their visas should be allowed to sit a new English language test and, if they pass, their visa should be restored without charge with a validity of 12 months.
Support for students returning to study should be established, including the creation of a working group with representatives from Home Office, UKVI and the Department of Education among others.
The key recommendations from the report.
A Home Office spokesperson told The PIE: “the report does not reflect the findings of the courts, who have consistently found that the evidence of fraud was enough for us to take action.
“As the National Audit Office recently highlighted, the Tier 4 system was subject to widespread abuse in 2014 and almost all those involved in the cheating were linked to private colleges which the Home Office already had significant concerns about.
The spokesperson added that the NAO was clear on the scale and organised nature of the abuse, “demonstrated by the fact that 25 people who facilitated this fraud have received criminal convictions”.
But Timms at the APPG told The PIE that “there is no way the evidence can stand up in court.”
“There is nothing at all to link a particular student with the voice files that ETS says were that students’… there’s no metadata on the clips,” he said. A 2016 ruling defined the evidence used by the Home Office as “hearsay.”
The Home Secretary said this week that he will make a statement on the matter before the summer recess. Timms and Jim Fitzpatrick MP discussed the possibility of asking an Urgent Question in case the statement doesn’t come.
“If there isn’t a statement there is always the option for us of applying to the Speaker for an Urgent Question – but I am hoping he is going to do what he has promised,” Timms said.
“The uncertainty is shocking – it’s devastating”
Students and campaigners have been waiting for a statement from the Home Secretary to bring much-needed clarity to those left in limbo by the situation.
The urgency was made clear by Ramadan’s announcement that Migrant Voice will run a workshop next week to advise students on what to do in case they get detained.
“Instead of telling them we have a workshop on how to get back into education or work, we find ourselves, because of the lack of response and repeated delay of that statement, inviting them to a workshop like this,” Ramadan told The PIE.
“They are at risk of being detained anytime. This is a big fear in their life. The uncertainty is shocking – it’s devastating.”
All of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without the contribution of higher education and research, three prestigious international university associations, representing more than 2,000 universities, have said in a joint statement.
“This new network will enable [institutions] to share good practice and expertise”
Through research, teaching, and community engagement, higher education has a “direct impact on the development of every country”, the organisations said.
In addition, the role of higher education extends beyond the SDGs’ fourth goal to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
“The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will not be achieved without partnerships that include universities,” they said.
In the statement, the networks call on the higher education sector to raise levels of attainment and access, adopt policies and practices which maximise their contribution to the 2030 Agenda and incorporate education for sustainable development into undergraduate curricula.
The SDGs’ fourth goal can only be achieved if the UN and its agencies respond to the need for “strong higher education systems globally”, they added.
Additionally, the UN must recognise the contribution of higher education to Agenda 2030 and all SDGs beyond SDG 4, and provide platforms to engage the higher education sector as partners for development, building on the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative and UN Academic Impact Initiative.
Along with partnering with universities, national governments need to deliver well-planned long-term financial investment and “adopt a whole sector approach to the development of strong, equitable, quality education systems”.
ACU’s new network will seek to support universities in their efforts to engage with the SDG agenda, for example through integrating sustainable development into operations, sharing SDG learning content, and developing SDG-focused research strategies.
In a statement, ACU secretary-general Joanna Newman said the Commonwealth was a “living laboratory” for change.
“Our common language and institutional structures are a solid foundation for partnerships between universities,” she said.
“The new network will support collaboration between our members and act as a powerful advocacy platform to demonstrate the contribution of the higher education sector to a wider audience.”
Universities have always had a strong civic role, Budd Hall and Rajesh Tandon, Joint UNESCO Chairs in Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education noted.
“Many [institutions] are already engaging directly with the SDG agenda. This new network will help showcase the great work they are already doing, and enable them to share good practice and expertise.”
Confirmed instances of fraudulent information for offshore New Zealand student visa applications almost doubled in 2018, but the majority of false applications continued to be refused without the need for further investigation.
According to Immigration New Zealand, the number of visa applications confirmed to have misleading information, such as fraudulent bank accounts, funds with no clear origin, or fraudulent qualifications and work experience spiked by 88% in 2018.
“INZ does not dedicate time to confirming fraud where there is no benefit to INZ”
“INZ is focused on ensuring student visa outcomes are of high quality,” said assistant general manager Jeannie Melville.
“As a regulator, INZ needs to balance facilitation and risk which, is why it is critical that the right level of scrutiny is applied to ensure the right decisions are made for New Zealand.”
Speaking to The PIE News, Melville said the figures only applied to applications in which fraudulent activity had been confirmed, noting the majority of misleading applications were rejected without further investigation.
“INZ does not dedicate time to confirming fraud where there is no benefit to INZ,” she said.
“If we are not satisfied with the likely authenticity of the information presented and therefore that an applicant does not meet the relevant instructions, an application may be declined.”
In June, Education New Zealand announced it was working with INZ to investigate ongoing visa processing delays, and Melville said the department was working with other stakeholders to smooth out the process.
“We are also committed to processing visas as fast as practicable and generally do a good job of this when the applications are complete and low risk,” she said.
“However, processing times will always depend on the complexity of an application.”
Melville added INZ would be providing further advice to providers, including guidance on the correct level of information needed for an application, and early submission prior to course commencement.
With a background in law and political science and some study abroad experiences, working for the EU Commission and Erasmus+ was an “Erasmus dream come true” for Irene Sabio Gallego. Here she tells The PIE about the relatively new international mobility arm of Erasmus+, building links between Europe and the rest of the world.
The PIE: Tell us more about yourself – how did you choose your career path?
ISG: I come from Madrid, and I am part of the Erasmus generation. When I enrolled at university in Madrid, I had the opportunity to study abroad.
I was very hesitant between Berlin because I loved German, and Brussels because I loved the EU. I chose Brussels and…well, more than 10 years later, I am still working for the EU. It was kind of my Erasmus dream come true.
“The Erasmus program… is something everybody likes”
I studied law and political sciences and then I had the opportunity to do a program on EU Studies in the College of Europe and there I had the opportunity to go into policy specifically of higher education. I have to say it’s not by chance that I am in Brussels. I really wanted to work for higher education and Europe.
The PIE: What does your position entail?
ISG: I have a wonderful job, because I have the opportunity to work for the biggest brand name of the EU, the Erasmus program, which is something everybody likes, and everybody knows somebody that had a good experience with it.
My job is sometimes very technical because I am in the team that is responsible for the international mobility part of Erasmus+, launched five years ago to support academic mobility between Europe and the rest of the world. In my job, I get to liaise with many universities and students and I am working specifically with the US and Canada, so it’s a very varied job.
With the international dimension of the Erasmus program, we work on student exchanges and – what is less known – also staff exchanges.
That’s important because you need to have faculty and administration on your side if you want to really change things in universities and make them more international. Altogether, we are doing around 40,000 of those academic exchanges per year across the whole world.
“You need to have faculty and administration on your side if you want to change things”
The PIE: What is the top destination for these programs?
ISG: Our budget is finite, with dedicated budgets for different geographical regions linked to the wider priorities of the EU. For example, we have a rather generous budget to work with countries neighbouring the EU to the East and South, and in these regions, we have many exchanges.
But that doesn’t mean that other countries with which we have fewer exchanges are not popular, because I can tell you for example that Latin America is 10 times oversubscribed.
This is one of the beautiful things of this program: when we started in 2014, we weren’t sure how the universities would get along, because we had geographical budgets and we knew that some countries had a preference to work with certain partners with whom they had a long-standing tradition of cooperation.
In the beginning, we had some universities complaining: “I would like to have more budget to work with Serbia and I am not that interested in working with Morocco, so why can’t I just switch?”
We explained patiently that our idea was precisely to encourage universities to enter into new partnerships as well as consolidating those that existed already. And now, five years later, that’s what we are seeing: many universities have started something new thanks to the Erasmus+ program, and they are using the budgets available throughout the world, so it’s very rewarding.
“Latin America is 10 times oversubscribed”
The PIE: What do you think the role of these programs is in building soft power?
ISG: For anybody working in the education sector, it’s clear that the benefits go well beyond the strictly educational components of the programs. We have just released the latest Erasmus impact study and we were looking at the impact that this academic mobility has on the participants.
Over 90% of the participants said they are better suited to understand cultural differences and be more open-minded to different opinions, also linked to different cultural backgrounds, and I think this is of huge value.
It shows you to what extent all these international exchanges create personal links that go beyond the experience of the student for the period of the exchange – it’s something that stays for life.
In the long run, these people-to-people contacts are as important as all the other benefits that participants are getting, because we are building a world where people can understand each other better.
The PIE: Any comment on the Brexit situation?
ISG: We are waiting to see what happens. What I can say, working for the EU Commission and Erasmus, I hope that in one way or the other the UK will still be there, because it’s an important partner for all European universities and it’s very long-standing cooperation which has to continue.
“The UK… it’s an important partner for all European universities”
But we need to wait to see what kind of decision is taken.
The PIE: What do you think is Europe’s biggest draw for international students?
ISG: I think the quality of European universities is something that’s already clear – it’s the primary reason. Our system is very open: when we look at student debt and access to education, in the EU there are many different systems and tuition levels, so that’s another reason for which it can be very appealing.
And I think it’s very good that we have this high turnout of European universities and agencies in NAFSA, because it’s important that people see all the different options they have in Europe; it’s a very diverse offer and they can go to many different countries, different universities that are at the top of different fields, and every student has a good university that they can find specifically suited for them.
This is also a value of what we are doing with Study in Europe, that we try to bring forward all the positive points of our education systems and the variety of our universities.
The PIE: What will be the biggest legacy of the Erasmus program, in 20 years’ time?
ISG: I hope it will continue to exist, first of all, so it will be an ongoing legacy that continues to build. But we can already see it in this Erasmus generation.
For example, I find it impressive to see that we have the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, was herself an Erasmus student. We also have prime ministers who have been Erasmus students.
“I think this shows that people understand the power that these programs have to build cohesive societies”
This helps them understand that this is something very important that they have to support, which is probably why for the next generation of programs after 2020 the proposal is to double the budget for Erasmus+ to €30 billion over seven years.
I think this shows that people understand the power that these programs have to build cohesive societies, to have citizens that are happier not only with their professional lives but also their personal lives because these experiences are very transformative.
So, 20 years from now, I hope we’ll have a broader community. Now we can support around 4% of students, but we want to go much further than that and get many more students to participate in our programs.
UK international graduates report a “lifetime advantage” from their British education and want to maintain their UK connection by conducting further business or research in the country, a new survey commissioned by UUKi shows.
International graduates feel their education has given them an edge in the job market – 87% felt more likely to do business internationally as a result, according to the report, presented at a launch event at the UK House of Commons.
And a high majority – 85% of non-EU and 84% of EU students – crucially felt they are happier than peers who studied in their home country.
“The UK enjoys significant returns on the investment we make in our international students”
“Responses to the International Graduate Outcomes survey clearly demonstrate that our international graduates benefit enormously from their UK degrees in terms of career progression, salary, skills and general wellbeing,” said UUKi director Vivienne Stern.
She was speaking at the launch ceremony, hosted by Jo Johnson MP, with ministers Graham Stuart and Chris Skidmore also in attendance.
“They also show, though, that the UK enjoys significant returns on the investment we make in our international students,” Stern added.
“Our international graduates act as global ambassadors for the UK, developing an international network of business links, promoting UK higher education and returning to the country as tourists.”
Stern explained that the results show that not only do UK universities do a great job giving their graduates a “lifetime advantage,” but that international alumni wishing to maintain their contact with the UK are a crucial asset for the country.
“Creating a climate that can attract and retain international students in not just in the interest of universities but the whole of the UK,” she said.
Commissioned to i-graduate by UUKi with support from BUILA, the survey polled 16,199 international graduates from 58 UK institutions and 189 countries worldwide with a view to filling a gap in the available evidence on medium-term outcomes of international graduates (most graduated between two and five years ago).
It also aims to serve as an evidence base for government and universities to maximise the mutual benefits of international students and graduates.
About two in three respondents said their career had progressed more quickly than peers educated elsewhere, while 82% reported their degree was worth the investment and 83% said it helped them get their job.
An extract from the report
Almost one in four said that having a UK qualification was the most important factor for their employer, and for international graduates working in their home countries the economic advantage was significant, as they reported earning more than the local average graduate salary.
Benefits are not only professional or economic, as graduates reported they felt better equipped to actively contribute to global challenges: over 60% said they were better equipped to address issues of sustainable economy, human rights, governance and societal justice and sustainable development.
As for their plans for the future, respondents seemed keen to maintain their UK connections – 81% said they intended to develop professional links with UK organisations and 77% said they were more likely to do business with the UK after their studies, and 77% of postgraduate research graduates said they planned to collaborate with the UK for research purposes.
During the launch ceremony, speakers reiterated their support to the international education strategy goals to grow international student numbers by 30% by 2030 and highlighted the need for greater appreciation of international students’ contribution.
“We need to see international students as the national asset that they are”
“We need to see [international students] as the national asset that they are,” Johnson said, adding that while he welcomed the international education strategy, its big ambitions must be matched by adequate policy, such as a more liberal post-study work regime.
Johnson and Paul Blomfield MP tabled an amendment earlier this year which would restore the two-year post-study work permit that international graduates used to enjoy until 2012.
“There is now complete agreement across both sides… about the need to move forward on international students, to celebrate their contribution and reverse some of the challenges we have had in recent years,” Blomfield commented.