The international arm marked its first event at the House of Commons in London today, hosted with the British Universities’ International Liaison Association, focusing on ensuring the city and the country remains open to international talent, and how alumni engagement is key in this goal.
Geoff Petts, chair of London Higher and vice chancellor at the University of Westminster, told The PIE News that the city is a “total powerhouse” with individual institutions boasting their own heritage and capacity.
“If everyone counts as alumni, this will help the UK-based people connect with other internationals”
“So today we’ve launched London Higher International, working with the mayor’s office, not just responding to Brexit, and how we’re going to interact with Europe, but basically say London is global,” Petts said.
MPs, alumni and stakeholders came together to discuss how alumni engagement is key to attract talent to the city.
Petts said alumni are extremely beneficial for institutions themselves, as well as the UK as a whole.
“The more alumni that can connect and do great things, the better the university will look,” he said. “And the more international students they can attract for the future.”
International students generate £2.7bn in export earnings in London, and support 70,000 jobs as a result.
Catherine West, MP for Hornsey & Wood Green in north London, reminded attendees of the role alumni play in the UK’s soft power push, pointing out that 35 current world leaders were educated in the UK.
“I’m a big believer in the long term of soft power. I think we could educate many more people in terms of our values and create a kind of consensus internationally about what’s important,” she told delegates.
Mustafa Khanwala is one such alum who was educated in the UK at the University of Manchester and UCL. He established his own UK-based business, MishiPay, an app which allows people to self-scan and pay for their items in a store without the need to queue.
Khanwala nodded to the importance of sharing stories of alumni who studied in the UK to portray a positive message.
“Then you need to connect people to each other,” he told The PIE News.
This doesn’t just help previous international students, he said, but local students too.
“Everyone would count as alumni, not just the locals or the internationals,” he said. “As alumni you don’t look at that separately. So if everyone counts as alumni, this will help the UK-based people connect with other internationals, which will bring more business into the UK.”