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Higher Education: Foreign Students

Question for Department for Education

UIN 45252, tabled on 11 May 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to work with the higher education sector to attract international students to (a) creative and (b) specialist universities in the UK in the next academic year.

Answered on

19 May 2020

The government continues to recognise the huge value, both culturally and socially as well as economically, that international students bring to higher education in the UK. We recognise that the COVID-19 outbreak will have an unparalleled impact on all elements of the global and UK economy. The higher education sector, including student recruitment, is no exception.

We have been working closely with the whole sector, including representatives of smaller and specialist higher education providers, to monitor the likely impacts of COVID-19 on international student recruitment. We understand that the COVID-19 outbreak and a possible reduction in the number of international students poses significant challenges. We stand ready to help the sector, including creative and specialist institutions, with various mitigations.

The government is working to ensure that existing rules and regulations, including visa regulations, are as flexible as possible for international students under these unprecedented circumstances. The latest visa guidance for students includes English language workarounds that will also benefit smaller and specialist higher education providers and providers of pre-sessional courses. Higher education providers are encouraged to be flexible in accommodating applicants’ circumstances where possible, including if applicants are unable to travel to the UK in time for the start of the academic year.

The government has also committed to publish a review of the International Education Strategy this autumn, which will respond to the new context and the challenges that are?posed by COVID-19 across all education settings. We look forward to continuing to welcome international students in the future - they are one of the reasons why our higher education sector remains world-class.