UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) report recently stated that 60 per cent in world growth of outboard students will be from India and China by 2027.
This poses an opportunity for a Global Britain post-Brexit to raise its global student market share and reverse the fall in students’ enrollment experienced since 2011.
While students study in the UK, they increase knowledge and preference for UK brands leading to greater consumption of UK products positively impacting both UK soft power and future trade relationships.
The APPG states that international students be removed from government net immigration targets and instead a clear and ambitious target should be set to grow international student numbers.
UK India Business Council Chief Operating Officer, Kevin McCole, gave evidence to the inquiry on September 11 outlining the case for a visa student policy aligned with British industrial strategy.
“We’re a global Britain and our industrial strategy sets out grand challenges. We should, therefore, be looking to address those challenges with partners from around the world. So aligning the visa student policy with an industrial strategy would seem to me to make great sense,” said Kevin McCole.
The UKIBC supports the recommendations of the APPG report, and in its submission to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s (FAC) Global Britain and India Inquiry last month, it likewise called for a review of all the allocation of tier two and tier four visa policies for Indian students which do not currently reflect the best of Britain.
With world class provision of higher education, the UK could be a valuable partner for the success of India’s long-term interests. Not only should this be explicitly shaped by the UK industrial and export strategy, as Kevin outlined to the APPG inquiry, but should be recognising India’s needs in this.
The APPG report also recommended that the UK should have a strategy to support international students seeking employment opportunities in their home country. This can boost UK soft power, research and trade, ensuring greater engagement with alumni by universities, business and government, said UK India Business Council in a release.
This supports comments made by businesses and universities during the recent ‘Future of Work’ roundtable between leading UK higher education institutions and Indian business leaders in Mumbai for higher education institutions to do more to support their graduates seeking employment in their home country.
There is much that be done to ensure higher education institutions are aware of Indian business skill requirements and likewise ensuring Indian businesses are aware of the quality of the courses UK institutions offer.