Can I have the bill please?

So the details of the Immigration bill have just been released, and I can’t help but wonder what the impact of these changes will have on the UK’s ability to still attract the brightest and the best international students?

It is difficult not to agree with the underlying intent of the Bill. It is hard to see why those who do not have the right to be in the UK should be able to use the NHS for free. Landlords should be accountable to tenants to stop this ‘beds in sheds’ abuse. Fines should be increased (doubled) and handed out, as well as assets being seized to stop people who are exploiting non-EU citizens. There is no place for any form of ‘human trafficking’ in a civilized society.  Continue reading “Can I have the bill please?”

£67 million on visa compliance – but is the money being spent in the right areas?

The recent Higher Education Better Regulation Group report which estimated that the UK higher education sector has spent £67 million on visa compliance, got me thinking. Has it really been five years since the Points Based System (PBS) was introduced?

It immediately took me back to when I was working at the University of East Anglia and I was asked to lead on a little project for about six to eight months to make sure that the University’s visa letters had consistency across the faculties and included our new licence number.  It’s funny how that little project has evolved as per the HEBRG report and cost HE institutions £67 million, but surely that must also be seen as an investment in one of the UK’s most valuable export sectors and, more importantly in supporting students on their journey to the United Kingdom?

Continue reading “£67 million on visa compliance – but is the money being spent in the right areas?”

Can’t count, won’t count – should be made to count

 

Over the weekend the BBC reported that the influential Public Administration Committee claimed data used by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for estimating who enters and leaves the country were a best guess and not fit for purpose as a means of calculating net migration figures upon which major policy commitments are based. Interested observers already know that the Migration Advisory Committee also think that the ONS method is likely to significantly over-state net migration and particularly the impact of international students attending courses in the UK.

To recap, net migration is calculated as the total number of people entering the United Kingdom for a year or longer minus those who leave the country. The Coalition Government in the United Kingdom is committed to reducing the net migration number from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. At present this is calculated based on something called the International Passenger Survey – which is a random sample of up to 5000 people each year asking them why they are entering or leaving the country.  From that the Office of National Statistics extrapolates the net migration number. A deeply flawed and unreliable mechanism, given the millions of entries and exits to the UK each year. Continue reading “Can’t count, won’t count – should be made to count”

It’s the way that you tell ’em – taking a leaf out of Canada’s book.

Attracting the brightest and the best international students is a major policy priority for almost every university in the developed world and across most in the emerging economies.  Indeed a report produced by the UK’s Office of Budget Responsibility on 16th July 2013 went further and argued that the United Kingdom requires a steady flow of migration to offset the challenges of an ageing population.  This is rather at odds with how the UK is currently perceived in some quarters.

Continue reading “It’s the way that you tell ’em – taking a leaf out of Canada’s book.”

Nothing wrong with a Desmond – degree outcomes and international students


In a world where universities, employers and students are increasingly obsessed with league table performance, the number of ‘good honours’ degrees attained – defined  as 2:1s or first class degrees  – has become a significant criterion for ranking purposes. While it is entirely laudable that universities should strive to increase the number of students achieving top degree results, it does beg an obvious question: If 2:1 and firsts are good honours, does that mean students achieving 2:2s are bad or less good?

Continue reading “Nothing wrong with a Desmond – degree outcomes and international students”

China Rising – perspectives on internationalization from one of China’s leading universities

In the second of our guest blog posts in advance of NAFSA 2013, Professor Lin Runhui of Nankai University in China offers his perspective on internationalization.  Nankai is widely regarded as one of China’s finest universities and is currently offering Masters degrees in English for international students.  Find our more about opportunities in China and meet with Professor Lin at our Destination China seminar at NAFSA 2013 in Saint Louis.

Continue reading “China Rising – perspectives on internationalization from one of China’s leading universities”

Charles Clarke: Developing skilled knowledge workers – The role of international collaboration

Globalisation is the unavoidable reality of the modern world.

People move and migrate.

Technologies, techniques and production methods are transferred across the planet in an instant. Economies are becoming less and less closed, more and more part of the international trading system.

There are fewer and fewer national scientific secrets. Scientific knowledge is almost universally available. Events in one corner of world become constant news in every part of the world.

Continue reading “Charles Clarke: Developing skilled knowledge workers – The role of international collaboration”

Internationalisation – the key component of Employability

Earlier this year McKinsey, the global consulting firm, produced a hard hitting report on Education to Employment. The report describes a global paradox: crippling levels of youth unemployment around the world – close to 50% in Southern Europe and the Middle East, yet 40% of employers surveyed claiming an equally dangerous shortage of appropriately qualified staff. The report also forecast a global shortage of up to 85 million skilled workers by 2020. To quote from their report:

“Employers, education providers, and youth live in parallel universes. To put it another way, they have fundamentally different understandings of the same situation. Fewer than half of youth and employers, for example, believe that new graduates are adequately prepared for entry-level positions. Education providers, however, are much more optimistic: 72 percent of them believe new graduates are ready to work..

Continue reading “Internationalisation – the key component of Employability”

International students – more than just a cash cow for UK higher education

If you’ve been following the recent press coverage or listen to government ministers speak about international students, you could be forgiven for thinking their only contribution to UK higher education was to finance the bottom line of universities. Through their unregulated fees, international students do pay a sizeable amount to study here in the UK. And whether universities admit it or not, international fee income unquestionably helps to subsidise the home and EU students they study alongside.

But to dwell on the financial contribution international students make is to miss the point. One of the greatest strengths of studying in a UK university is, and always has been the chance to meet fellow students from different backgrounds. This collision of perspectives and personal histories doesn’t just enrich the educational setting by adding new dimensions to the debate and discussion in our classrooms, it helps to shape a more civilised and understanding society.
Continue reading “International students – more than just a cash cow for UK higher education”

It Ain’t What You Do

During a lull in a long meeting over the summer, a couple of colleagues at INTO were wrestling over our “elevator pitch” – what makes us distinctive. And we then broadened it out to think about ways in which universities can communicate their distinctiveness, a word appearing on many people’s lips across the sector. It’s difficult  when there is so much change and much analysis is unremittingly bleak.

The first years of this decade have brought us funding challenges on both sides of the Atlantic, the emergence of the discerning customer, disruptive market entrants to higher education, confusing and poorly executed government policy on student visas and so on.  It’s not easy being a traditional university in this environment. Moreover, after years of steady and quota-secured growth in tertiary enrolments, universities are facing serious structural challenges as various quasi-markets are created by government policy. The squeezed middle is very real.

Continue reading “It Ain’t What You Do”