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UK: positive outlook for offshore provision

With growing concern among the UK education sector about international students’ inclusion in net migration targets, industry experts forecasted a more positive and opportunistic outlook for offshore provision and stressed the need to improve UK branding at an event in London this week.

Karan Khemka, partner, Parthenon, Emily Ashwell, managing director of UKTI Education at the Education Investor: Exporting Excellence conference

“It’s about being really crisp when we’re working internationally about the fact that the UK system is very closely linked in with employers"

Entry into emerging markets and working with partners such as INTO and Study Group was a key theme at the Education Investor Exporting Excellence conference, attended by UK education experts, investors, financial and legal advisors and strategy consultants.

“There is opportunity to take UK provision overseas to therefore target the middle income of these emerging markets that would be interested in a UK education but can’t necessarily come to the UK,” Emily Ashwell, Managing Director of UKTI’s Education UK Unit, told delegates.

“There is opportunity to take UK provision overseas to target the middle income of emerging markets that can’t necessarily come to the UK”

Ashwell noted that corporate models that work with different types of provision such as online models could have potential and that the UK in general could “think about a different way to market itself internationally.”

There were also calls for the UK to showcase its unique skills-based education and links with employers, with the University of Lincoln being recognised as a success story thanks to its partnerships with Siemens.

“It’s about being really crisp when we’re working internationally about the fact that the UK system is very closely linked in with employers and has a focus on education and skills that’s needed for employment,” said Ashwell.

Another overarching theme of the conference was the shifting balance towards in-country, tailored learning, rather than just setting up UK provisions overseas.

David Crowther, director of international products and global partnerships at Pearson, Simon Connell of Educate and Steve Hill of the Open University had a consistent message for those setting up overseas or involved in in-country: choose the right partner.

Hill stressed the importance of finding a partner with a clear exit strategy. He also spoke of increasing integration between IT and education, driven by new technologies such as MOOCs, ‘virtual’ classrooms and cloud-based learning systems.

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