UK New International Education Strategy for 2021

15 February, 2021



The Department for Education and Department for International Trade of the UK has released an updated version of its International Education Strategy, which was originally launched in 2019. On February 6, 2021, the updated version of International education strategy was published with the ambition to ‘help the education sector build back better from the pandemic. 

UKs New International Education Strategy for 2021

International Education Strategy of UK

An updated version of the International Education Strategy of the UK has been introduced. It promises to “boost” the education exports of the UK. It also remains committed to the two original ambitions planned in march 2019:   
  1. To grow the UK’s education exports to pound 35 billion per year by 2030. 
  2. To increase the enrollment of international students in the universities in UK to 600,000, by 2030.
The government of UK said by increasing global growth opportunities, the strategy will support the education sector to build back better from the pandemic. It has planned 14 actions for this, the most important 10 actions which favour international students are:
  • Action 1: International Education Champion 
In the priority country list of International Education Champion India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Nigeria are included. The second priority of this champion includes Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan, Europe, China and Hong Kong. This list of priorities reflects where there is a significant possibility of growth. This Champion would open up opportunities and overcome the barriers.
  • Action 2: Free trade agreements 
This will promote education in future contracts and ensure that the views of the sector are represented. 
  • Action 3: Streamlined application process for international students
This will ensure there is clearer, easy availability of information for international students wishing to pursue their higher education studies in the UK. This will include information and guidance provided as per students’ needs. For example, including links to immigration procedures.
  • Action 4: Financial options for international students 
This action will assemble alternative finance providers, sector and student representatives. This would help to raise awareness of the financial options available to international students as well as to know how products could be improved to meet the demand. This will create more financial options for international students. 
  • Action 5: Academic experience of international students 
This action will introduce a new project with an aim to find ‘what works’ in ensuring to get a fulfilling academic experience in the UK for international students. This will check the positive impact international students have on home students. From this action, they will also learn lessons from their response to the pandemic on provider-level delivery and student engagement. 
  • Action 6: Employability of international students 
This action will support international student employability. The UK Council for International Student Affairs will collaborate with the Confederation of British Industry, Universities UK International, and key education and employer groups to succeed in this action. The group will try to understand the skills needs in the UK, international labour markets, and barriers to international graduate employability and find solutions and ways from the examples of best practice across the sector. 
  • Action 7: System-to-system engagement 
This action will lead to system-to-system engagement to create trading partners with whom the education sector of the UK can work for the long term. They will work with development banks and donor organisations to build the sector’s contact with these organisations, to ensure it is engaged in business opportunities. 
  • Action 8: International Qualified Teacher Status
 The Department for Education will get connected with teacher training providers to set up a new international teaching qualification. This will lead to gain ‘International Qualified Teacher Status. This will help the spread of high-quality teaching and encourage international students to study in the UK.  
  • Action 9: Market barriers 
This action will address market barriers to the growth of UK education exports. This will help to facilitate the expansion of transnational education(TNE), including online and blended learning models. 
  • Action 10: Developing investment opportunities in the UK education sector
This action aims to develop investment offers and identify opportunities for the education sector, apart from EdTech.

One thing can be viewed clearly in this revised version of the UK government’s International Education Strategy that both unity and collective strength will be the main way to recover. Through this strategy,  the government will work with the UK education sector to shift from recovery to sustainable growth. 

Launch of the Turing mobility scheme

The Turing scheme will provide funding for students in universities, colleges and schools to take placements all over the world. At Higher Education level, international students are also eligible to study or undertake a work placement abroad along with the domestic students for between 4 weeks to 12 months. This scheme will also fund additional travel expenses, including costs of visas, passports, and health insurance. 

Post-study work rights

The work rights after studies in UK of 2 years for all international students and 3 years for PhD students, known as the “Graduate” route will take effect this summer. Students affected by COVID study disruptions will remain eligible for the Graduate route provided that they will complete one semester’s face-to-face learning. This will be applicable for
  • who were not able to travel to UK for attending classes 
  • who were forced to study online or through blended learning.

The response of UK to the coronavirus pandemic  

In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the UK government has prioritised safety and flexibility. They are also making sure that international students have been able to start or resume their courses in the confidence that they will not be penalised. The universities in UK began the academic year 2020 -2021 with the blended models of learning, including a mix of online and in-person learning to reduce physical contact. This shows how important are international students and their studies for the UK. 

Vivienne Stern, the director of Universities UK International said “The UK’s ‘Education is GREAT’ campaign will also support the strategy and DIT has developed a virtual program to “support the global recovery of the education sector’s international activity” He also added, “ I am very supportive of the International Education Strategy, which represents the next step in a joint effort by government and the education sector, to build on the international success of our education system and our attractiveness to international students.”