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IHE’s 10 recommendations for incoming UK government

A modern and diverse tertiary education system that promotes innovation, excellence and flexibility is within grasp, according to IHE, but certain actions from government could help to deliver real choice and innovation, power leading industries and support every student to succeed in reaching their potential.

“This is our blueprint for change,” said Alex Proudfoot, IHE chief executive.

“In this manifesto we show how IHE, and the very special institutions in our membership, are ready to play our part in powering economic growth and realising an optimistic vision of the future.”

Among its recommendations, IHE is calling on the incoming government to commit to a “streamlined, consistent and competitive visa system”.

A transparent and dependable visa offer is critical to maintaining the UK’s global position, it highlighted.

That’s why IHE is recommending the government makes available a “simple, competitive student visa” to all adult students who choose the UK, while streamlining rules to minimise administrative errors and granting all students the same privileges, including up to 25 hours of work per week.

It also recommended a pathway visa be introduced for “friction-free progression” through different courses and levels.

The manifesto highlights the importance of the financial and cultural contribution of international students and the impact this has on specialist colleges and universities, such as Richmond American University London – the small university offering dual UK and American degrees to students from around the globe, with study abroad opportunities in its ethos and an international approach to its courses.

IHE’s Proudfoot recently went head to head with right-wing provocateur Nigel Farage live on GB News to speak on the value of international students on the day the Migration Advisory Committee released the results of its rapid review into the Graduate Route, in which it recommended the visa route is retained in its current form.

The association and its members are calling on the next government to commit to the UK’s Graduate Route, adding that it should be “strengthened” through the creation of a global employability strategy with regional plans and complemented by a Higher Technical Training route for newly qualified technicians to be fast-tracked into shortage roles in key industries.

The mainfesto goes on to suggest a 10-year multi-entry visa, used to promote the UK as “the home of lifelong global continuing professional development”.

IHE’s manifesto is also calling for “more sophisticated migration statistics” to track the temporary inflow and outflow of international students separately from economic and family migrants, which it said will inform better policy and operational planning.

“IHE is right to challenge the way we count international students in net migration figures,” said Lord Bilimoria, chancellor of the University of Birmingham, President of UKCISA.

“They are temporary but contribute so much in the short time they are here. To grow our economy we need to use real data which recognises the immense value of these students.

“Growing international education should be at the forefront of every party’s election platform,” said Bilimoria, who is also director of the International Chamber of Commerce UK.

Growing international education should be at the forefront of every party’s election platform

Lord Bilimoria, University of Birmingham

“But that growth should be balanced across the UK and shared with both academic and technical education, supporting our specialist colleges and our great British industry.

“Every business benefits from export support, and education is no different. Small and specialist higher education providers, so often linked with their industries and with excellent global reputations, deserve a dedicated plan to help them promote and enhance the reputation of UK education internationally.”

Elsewhere in the manifesto, IHE is encouraging the government to adopt a national strategy to support students with their mental health, along with the delivery of a modern maintenance system that allows students to focus on their studies.

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