There was initial confusion within the sector about how this unit, to be called Education UK, would work alongside the well established Education UK portal and brand as managed by the British Council.
With a hint of a defensive position, Dr Jo Beall, director of education and society at the British Council, said they would continue to consult with both BIS and UKTI to “protect and enhance.. the impact of the international student-facing Education UK brand and together with the unit will solicit advice on market segmentation from specialist consultants”.
However, she also hinted that an Education UK quality kitemark, applicable across education providers and associated vocational training and suppliers who work offshore, could be developed under the auspices of the wider Education UK initiative.
“By bringing alongside [our] efforts with those of UKTI/BIS to increase UK education exports, we can create a more coherent and integrated UK education offer,” she stated. “As we develop the brand together we will explore ways in which the mark ‘Education UK’ may be used more widely as a quality endorsement marking, available to other UK education providers and organisations.”
The government announced last week that it believes opportunity lies in offshore education delivery – no surprise given tighter visa policy at home, and the recent announcement that visa interviews will be re-introduced for around half of all visa applicants.
“This new unit and the forthcoming strategy will build on the effective work that TVET UK has done so far”
Education UK (the offshore team) will prioritise joined-up education delivery in markets overseas such as the Middle East and India. BIS said the UK was currently not “well-equipped to respond to large-scale complex commercial opportunities” and that it would support UK providers to win bids through consortia – as is done by competitors such as Germany.
Some efforts are already made in this respect by TVET, which represents vocational delivery and whose members include education institutions and suppliers. TVET has raised at least UK£20 million in vocational exports delivered offshore, as we reported in our interview with director, Matthew Anderson.
Anderson revealed that TVET had been in discussions about the new 10-strong team. “This new unit and the forthcoming strategy will build on the effective work that TVET UK has done so far in winning more international business for the sector,” he said.