On 14 November, former Universities Minister and Chair of the Cross-Party Universities Group, the Rt Hon Chris Skidmore MP launches new International Education Commission in order for the Higher Education community to convene and develop a new ‘International Education Strategy 2.0’. 

Skidmore is establishing the International Education Commission as a forum for the sector to convene and establish future policy proposals for what a new International Education strategy should look like. Support for the Commission, including the secretariat, is being provided by one of the leading international education providers, Oxford International Education Group. Oxford International has been actively supporting thought leadership in the sector as well as facilitating the development of new approaches in collaboration with the sector in areas such as pathway colleges, online and blended access programmes, and student recruitment. 

The commission will be formed of institutional representatives from across the U.K, including the devolved nations and every region of England. It will meet virtually and in-person in a series of roundtable discussions the distillation of which will form the basis of a new ‘International Education Strategy 2.0’ to be submitted to the Department of Education as a sector-wide plan for the future. 

Chris Skidmore will launch the commission on 14 November at 2-3pm with a keynote speech on ‘No Turning Back: why International Student success is everyone’s success’. 

In advance of the event, Chris Skidmore said: 

“International students are vital to the social and economic success of the U.K. and ensuring we remain an outwardly focused and globally engaged nation relevant to the world of today. Thankfully, our universities have stepped up to deliver on this vision, yet they need greater support across government to maintain our globally attractive international student offer and engagement with the world. Higher education is rightly regarded as the jewel in the UK’s crown – it opens many doors and is the basis for many opportunities for UK plc and its citizens. Now more than ever before we need a clear vision of what our international education strategy should be.  

Three years on since I launched the first strategy, the sector has met the targets it set out and needs a new framework. But with a new strategy needs to come greater recognition that we must have a more granular and sustainable approach to international education- one that does not just treat students as numbers on a spreadsheet but delivers the best possible outcomes for every individual – including, crucially, for domestic UK students. At the same time, with other countries outpacing the U.K. with more attractive post study work VISAs, we need to wake up to the fact that international students are part of the solution, and not the problem, for future U.K. success.  

That is why I have decided to establish this International Education Commission to bring the sector together to set out clearly what is needed, and the policies and frameworks that should be promoted if we are to have a chance of sustaining our international student pathways for the future.” 

The Commission will seek to address multiple opportunities and challenges that international education and future student pathways including: 

-What should a future student number target be set at given the broader policy and economic objectives of the UK 

-What are the future target countries that the U.K. should be working with to establish or expand future international student pathways and how do these link to international research collaboration and knowledge transfer 

-How can we ensure that universities do not become over dependent on specific countries for recruitment- and what does a sustainable recruitment strategy look like 

-How should local regions develop tailored local international education strategies and plans to reflect local strengths and priorities 

-What should a future VISA offering for international students look like 

-How can the U.K. continue to be competitive in its international offer to students- recognising other countries such as Canada, Australia and the US will also seek to attract students 

-How can we ensure international students are fully integrated on campus by taking an inclusive approach to international education and that the benefits for domestic students are realised 

-How we can prioritise student welfare and success so that international students have the best possible experience of life in the U.K. 

-How can we ensure student numbers are matched with the necessary accommodation and support services 

The commission will be launched at an online event taking place on Zoom, 2-3pm on Monday 14th November.