I am proud that so many international students choose to study here, in the UK, each year.
Looking to the future, we will continue to work together to make the UK as attractive as possible to international students, who will always be valued for their contribution to our society, the ideas they bring, and the culture they share with us.
The Graduate Immigration Route, for example, will launch this year. This route will allow students to apply for a visa to remain in the UK for up to two years or three years after their studies so they can look for work or start work at any skill level. We are also ensuring that international students can access a COVID-19 vaccine whilst they are here. And for students who might choose to access a UK education from their home country – there is, of course, the UK’s leading transnational education, or TNE, offer. This offers a variety of models of provision, providing benefits to students, institutions, the UK, and our partner countries. With the acceleration of digital and blended forms of online learning, I see great potential for TNE – and great scope for international partnership in developing pioneering models of provision with countries around the world. As you can see, we remain committed to our aspirations to be an internationally-minded, truly Global Britain. As one of the UK’s soft power strengths, education has a pivotal role to play in developing this ambition.
This is why, the UK government published the International Education Strategy in 2019 and why in February, I was proud to have launched the 2021 update to the strategy, together with the department for International Trade. Through this update, we made clear that we remain an outward-looking country, committed to the achievements and the ambitions set out in a 2019 document – to sustainably recruit at least 600,000 international students per year and increase the value of education exports to £35 billion per year, both by 2030.
We must continue to forge lasting relationships across the globe and encourage our education providers to do the same, with quality, innovation, student experience, and developing global citizens at the heart of our global educational vision.
I am thrilled to be supported in this mission by Professor Sir Steve Smith, appointed last year as the UK’s International Education Champion, to support the development of lasting international relationships and partnerships, and tackle barriers facing UK providers overseas.
As well as bringing global talent to the UK and supporting UK institutions in their internationalization, we want our own young people to become truly global citizens.
That is why we launched the new Turing scheme in December 2020 – named in honor of the renowned pioneering scientist, Alan Turing. He was an internationalist of global renown and also, himself, studied himself abroad at Princeton University.
Turing is known for true academic excellence and the impact of his life’s achievements are still felt today. The scheme will support students from across the UK to take advantage of the benefits of studying and working abroad from September 2021.
The Turing scheme will be backed by a budget of £110m and will provide funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges, and schools to go on placements and exchanges across the world for the upcoming academic year.
Mobility and the opportunities this opens for our young people should not be limited to a privileged few. Through study or work experience abroad, we want this new generation to become more globally mobile and culturally agile.
To support the UK government’s agenda of leveling up across the entire UK, we have designed this scheme for everyone. No young person should be excluded from expanding their horizons because of their family’s income or other disadvantages they’ve experienced in their lives. These life-changing experiences will be accessible to students across the country, whatever their background. Offering short-term four-week HE placements, which were not previously available, will ensure students with commitments such as caring for children, or relatives, and those working to support their studies, are not left out. The Turing scheme is UK-wide and we want these life-changing opportunities to be accessible to everyone, across the country.
This pioneering scheme represents a landmark step in achieving our vision of a truly Global Britain. I have been engaging extensively with potential partners around the world to discuss the opportunities that the scheme provides. This includes international government organizations and institutions, in the US, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, India, and amongst many more throughout the Commonwealth. It has been excellent to see such positive engagement, and I look forward to seeing how UK providers will continue to build and strengthen collaborative partnerships overseas.
The application window for Turing Scheme projects for the upcoming year has now closed. I am delighted to say that we have received a strong number of applications with an appetite for mobility across the world. I’m extremely eager to see UK students beginning to access this new opportunity and begin their international journeys and I’d like to thank the UK sector for all they have done in helping to assist the introduction of the Turing Scheme to ensure its success.
I also want to show my gratitude to our host, the British Council, for all their work in supporting the delivery of the scheme as well as promoting it overseas to our international partners.
Despite the impact and uncertainty, we have all seen from COVID-19, I am proud to say that our collective, global efforts are supporting a new generation of young people to access and enjoy life changing international experiences wherever they study.
We will come out of this pandemic together, and stronger. In doing so, we are changing the shape of tertiary education around the globe, informed by innovative partnerships, collaboration, and learning from others. Thank you.