With business, education, policy, and government leaders in attendance, Vivienne Stern and Janet Ilieva explained a new weapon in the armoury of international educators – or more accurately, five new weapons.
“UK higher education is more vulnerable to changes in global demand and the environment”
In her research into ‘the significant shifts in international student enrolments in UK higher education’, Ilieva found five “little-known facts” about the UK’s mobile education industry.
More than half of the UK’s international students are new entrants. The PG intake is higher than the US’s. Future PG research intake demand is uncertain. The majority of UK international students are part of TNE programs – so not based in the UK.
And “there is a strong positive correlation between post-study work options and the growth of international student enrolments”.
This will come as little surprise to many in the sector, but according to Stern, lawmakers who have seen the explosive graph below instantly understood the importance of the visa category which does not currently exist in the UK framework.
The publication addresses the lack of long-term growth in UK HE recruitment, though it is not limited to HE, with Sarah Cooper of English UK also attending the launch and supporting the paper.
One issue identified by Ilieva and UUKi is the high turnover of international students in the UK, compared to other destinations. With 54% of the international population being first-year students (compared to just 35% in the US), the UK market needs to invest annually in “significant marketing effort related to student recruitment”.
“The rapid turnover of international students also indicates the UK higher education system is more vulnerable to changes in global demand and the external environment,” the document states.
This is mirrored in post-graduate enrolments, hence the higher percentage of first-year entrants to the UK research system, when compared again with the larger US market.
However, it is also highlighted that this source of incoming students may well be under threat, as funding sources change and fee waivers and provider awards increase.
In contrast, other forms of funding have decreased, and in the words of UUKi, “more should be done to project the UK’s welcoming attitude to the world’s research talent”.