By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

Relations between the private and public sector loom large in Study Travel Magazine’s coverage this week.

Firstly, our ‘View from the desk of...’ is an interview with Alex Proudfoot of Study UK, an association representing independent further and higher education institutions and specialist training colleges.

Proudfoot expands upon some of the benefits of private sector education for international students in the UK, noting that many of the association’s members were established principally to cater to the international market and are therefore well experienced in attending to the needs of overseas students, both in academic and pastoral senses.

He also explains some of the drawbacks, not least the differing levels of rights attributed to international students in the private sector – only international students at publicly funded institutions are allowed to work, for example. The disparity relates to changes in UK immigration policy in 2011 and clearly there were issues with some providers in the private sphere – issues that appear to have surfaced in Ireland recently.

But once a provider has been through all the levels of accreditation or oversight set as requirements by the government, shouldn’t they then have access to the full range of benefits for international students? There remains something of a two-tier level of “trust” within the UK’s Highly Trusted Sponsor system.

Proudfoot’s comments appear in a special feature on private tertiary education in the current issue of StudyTravel Magazine, and as many contributors in that article point out, the differences between the private and public sector are blurred, especially when UK universities are now charging UK£9,000+ (US$13,800) per year even to domestic students.

“The distinction between for-profit and not-for-profit higher education is becoming less relevant in the UK since most not-for-profit education institutions now operate in a business-like manner and seek to generate surpluses from many of their activities,” said Universities UK in a recent paper.

Some agents in the article also stated that they found it easier to work with institutions in the private sector in terms of price, flexibility and openness to agents and the commission model.

And instances of the public and private sectors working together in terms of international education are increasingly common, either through pathway arrangements, marketing initiatives and qualification accreditation, as Proudfoot highlights.

For example, today we publish news of another such pathway arrangement in the UK between Oxford International and Canterbury Christ Church University, and our report from the recent Groupement FLE conference brings optimism of greater collaboration between the state, its marketing bodies, public institutions and private language schools in order to attract more international students to France.

And lastly, let me sign off with a reminder that the voting for the STM Star Awards 2015 is well and truly open! Why not get the voting out of the way early and leave yourself plenty of time to think about what to wear to the awards ceremony!

Educators – click here to vote for your star agents this year.

Agents – click here to vote for your school partners.

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