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An exciting time to be part of the UK's international education sector

26 March 2013

Study Group’s UK Managing Director James Pitman was interviewed by Study Travel Magazine and discussed the recent challenges facing international education in the UK. He argues that there's never been a more exciting time to be part of the sector.

 “We’ve been kept on our toes in the UK over the last couple of years by visa reforms geared toward reducing net migration”, said Pitman.

“The debate surrounding the revisions will rumble on but we can at least be reassured by positive signs from the government more recently. Look at Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent visit to India, with an entourage laden with heavy hitters from industry and education. Likewise, promises of a period of stability when it comes to visa regulations must also be welcomed.

So, in the year when 50,000 international students will go through Study Group’s doors worldwide, we want to pick up the baton for Britain and send out some positive messages about the times ahead to the sector and students, based on the exceptional and undoubted quality of education, life experience and academic outcome offered by UK universities.

From a student’s perspective, the strong tradition in Britain of welcoming visitors endures amongst the public. In addition, the UK’s geographical location makes it almost unique among the world’s premiere study destinations – its proximity to Europe results in a diverse student body that Australia or the US cannot offer, making the UK a nexus of truly international networks that students can tap into and which also boost the UK’s ‘soft-power’ in diplomacy, commerce and culture.

The UK’s universities have embraced innovative modes of study, combining various methods of course delivery with the latest technology and there is a lot more of that to come. They’re famous for their academic research, led by, amongst others, the Russell Group of universities, and the UK’s range of choice is also huge: from leading design, art and fashion institutions through to Oxford, Cambridge and everything in between.

Those working in the international education sector also deserve recognition. The industry attracts talented individuals who work extremely hard to deliver an unsurpassed academic and cultural experience for international students. They play an important part in fostering deeper trans-national understanding, communications and cross-cultural awareness, and often develop a surprising affinity with their alumni based on the contact with them at a time of profound change in their lives.

An exciting period of growth lies ahead, with Unesco expecting the number of international students looking for higher education outside of their own country to reach eight million by 2020. The UK is ideally placed to welcome this new influx of curious minds looking for a world-class higher education at some of the best universities in the world. We just need to ensure we continue to push the quality of our international education and higher education sectors, and don’t let negative rhetoric from certain government departments weaken our position as a leading study destination.” 

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