Recent reports have revealed that a new commission had been introduced in the UK including several education sector experts. The objective of the commission is to “develop a new international education strategy” that accounts for the merits of international students in the UK while meeting the needs and requirements of the country as well.
The International Higher Education Commission (IHEC) is chaired by Chris Skidmore, the former UK universities minister and member of Parliament. The IHEC was established after reports of the UK government’s plans to curb the post-study work visa route and policies to reduce student migration numbers.
Launched earlier this week, the new commission will focus on highlighting the socio-economic value of international students in the UK, as well as, provide recommendations for a new ‘International Education Strategy 2.0’, that would help the country present new visa offers that are as competitive with other higher education destinations in the world.
One of the commissioners selected for the new panel is Sanam Arora, the founder and chair of the National Indian Students and Alumni Union (NISAU) UK. In her statements, she revealed that the UK and India “are at an extremely pivotal moment”, where a “need to develop a futuristic partnership focusing on each country's strengths and requirements, as equal partners," is a must.
Among the instances, Sanam highlighted the dearth of skilled manpower seen across sectors ranging from hospitality to healthcare. To meet such requirements for talent, Arora suggested an enhanced immigration regime that can create opportunities for Indians graduating from UK universities.
The other panel members joining Arora as commissioners include the former UK Universities ministers - Lord David Willets and Lord Jo Johnson, and academics like the President and Principal of King’s College London, Professor Shitij Kapur.
NISAU UK, understanding and advocating the need for a Graduate Route visa for years, wishes to ensure that both parties enjoy the benefits of such schemes. Arora stated that in NISAU’s research, it was understood that a vast majority of Indian students would prefer to stay back and gain valuable work experience before returning home, which she calls a “wonderful opportunity for mutual benefit”
Arora suggested that “the UK’s short to medium-term skills gaps can be plugged by providing a simplified education-to-employment system for Indians who have studied here.” Subsequently, their return to India would lead to highly-trained graduates contributing significantly to their home country by adapting global best practices to local businesses and requirements. She stated that it is this kind of innovative skill and education-based partnerships that they hope to bring about between the two countries.
As the chair of the commission, Skidmore acknowledged the influence of international students on the socioeconomic development and success of the UK. Thus, the country will be able to also present itself as an “outwardly focused and globally engaged nation relevant to the world of today".
In his statements, Skidmore also highlighted the need to understand and see international students as the solution for UK’s future and not the problem. He emphasized the need for a “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…”
Within the past year, the UK witnessed a sudden increase in the number of international students enrolling in its universities. As a result of the Graduate Route, over 120,000 Indians received study visas within the last academic year, overtaking the Chinese as the largest international student cohort, stated the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
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Source: The Economic Times