Overseas students studying in the UK could be worth up to a staggering £12bn per year by 2020. This is a figure estimated by Google through search data analysis, which identifies and illustrates the level of international student’s interest to study at British universities. These current figures in relation to the interest from overseas students are growing at ten times the rate of the interest from students (potential) within the UK.
This is great news for Universities and higher education institutions in the UK, as they charge overseas students much more in fees than UK residents and therefore, more profit. However, research recently conducted by IPPR indicates that higher education institutions cannot solely rely on their reputation that universities have; the level of interest could quite easily diminish at a fast rate, as other countries are catching up in terms of the level of education provided to students. Additionally, the UK higher education institutions need to ensure that the best and brightest overseas students are being attracted to studying here.
UK Education Relying on Reputation
UK higher education institutions for many years have relied heavily upon their reputation in order to attract not only UK residents, but overseas students as the UK are or certainly were portrayed as a world-leading provider of education.
However, the competitiveness of the global market in education has and will continue to become increasingly more difficult and there are signs of this taking place; more and more countries are offering much better incentives for prospect students. According to a recent survey carried out by Ipsos MORI, indicated that 91% of Indian nationals were put off studying in the UK due to the lack of work post-study jobs available due to current restrictions.
How Other Countries are Attracting International Students Interest
The Australian government realized the need to be more competitive in order to attract more interest from international students and as a result implemented changes and offered incentives in 2011. Australia recognized the need to improve the work post-study options and relax some of the restrictions that students were up against and in effect acting as a deterrent e.g. Visa restrictions for international students. Visa restrictions were one of the main reasons behind the dramatic fall in the number of overseas students applying.
France took a slightly different approach in order to attract more international students to study there. In 2013, France’s higher education minister Geneviève Fioraso, promised to make adjustments to improve its competitiveness against other countries in the education sector. The key proposals were to not only improve visa regulations and conditions, but to also provide free French language lessons for overseas students. Also, any overseas student studying in France are now able to search for a job and/or work experience posts for up to one year after the completion of their course, which is a great incentive.
Most Popular Country for Overseas Students
The US is currently the most sought-after country to study for international students and is in fact at an all time high, which is by no means a coincidence. With the considerable numbers of overseas students studying in the US, this is very important in terms of the revenue it now generates; overseas students are contributing, approximately $24 billion (£15 billion) with Indian and Chinese nationals accounting for approximately two-thirds of the revenue generated and is set to grow.
How the UK could Improve
The IPPR report recently conducted made a number of recommendations in order for the UK to grow faster and to in effect keep-up with other countries. These recommendations included allowing all overseas students to work whilst studying (maximum of 40 hours per fortnight) with the added ability of enabling international students to stay within the UK for six months after graduating to look for work (as long as they are vouched for by their higher education institution) with a view to increase the time allowed to two years for PhD, MBA and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math’s) graduates.
The UK government needs to think carefully in regards to the measures that need to be carried out in order to attract many more overseas students. The sheer amount of potential income this could generate for the UK is substantial and could have a big impact on the economy and the overall quality of existing services in the UK. If restrictions are not lifted, the UK will eventually fall behind other leading countries when it comes to education.
Published on behalf of Joanne L. The author of this article, has worked in the education sector as a tutor for many years and has vast experience when it comes to teaching overseas students.