Study UK discusses potential immigration policies

01, December, 2014

Study UK, the association for independent education providers in the UK, held its Annual Conference on November 25, bringing together leading industry figures to talk with a political focus about the future of the sector in 2015 and beyond.

David Hanson MP, Shadow Immigration Minister, says Labour will remove international students from the UK's net migration target if they win the 2015 general election.

David Hanson MP, Shadow Immigration Minister, began the day by giving a keynote speech on migration in the UK, stating that overseas students should not be part of the net migration target and that the current immigration debate in the UK needs to be widened to include the positives of international education.

Hanson, who would become Immigration Minister if the UK’s Labour Party won the general election in May 2015, also said that the Home Office should do more to welcome overseas students to the UK and added, “We should be making the most of potential from across the world. We should attract the brightest to Britain to learn.”

In the same week, Home Secretary Theresa May said that the UK is “unlikely” to meet its target for reducing immigration from hundreds of thousands to tens of thousands by the general election next year, mainly due to migration from within the EU.

Alex Proudfoot, Study UK Association Manager, gave a talk in which he warned that changes in government regulation could make 2015/16 unpredictable for the UK’s HE and FE sectors, and that he hopes Study UK will be able to give recommendations to the next government on flexible funding systems, living costs and postgraduate funding.

Proudfoot, who warmly welcomed the 25 new Study UK members in 2014, also urged that a balanced student migration policy was needed, with a review of the Tier 4 student visa and equal work rights for international students.

There were 117 representatives from institutions across the UK in attendance at the conference, hearing other keynote speakers including Madeleine Atkins CBE, HEFCE Chief Executive Professor, and Rod Bristow, President of Pearson UK.

In one breakout session, Working with agents: encouraging best practice, Ian Smith, Visa and Accreditation Compliance Manager at Study Group, who have regional centres across the globe working with student recruitment agents, reminded schools that when working with agents in source countries that are perceived to be negative, data always speaks louder than hearsay.

Another breakout session, What do international students really want?, Marie Clark, Head of Marketing and Communications at Hobsons, told delegates that their latest report, Beyond the Data: Influencing International Student Decision Making, found that of the 18,000 students from 195 countries who wanted to study at public universities in the UK, 71 per cent said they never used an agent in their search process of studying abroad.

The Hobsons report also found that when a student is looking to study abroad, the subject is the most important factor to consider, followed by country and then university. When choosing which country to study in, the quality of education compared to a student’s home country was the most important factor, followed by the country’s attitude to international students.

Study UK will hold a half-day seminar on January 28, 2015 with Penningtons Manches LLP to discuss immigration law updates in the UK. More details on all upcoming Study UK events can be found here:

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