Westminster Higher Education Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
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Implementing the Turing scheme, next steps for international student exchange, and improving outcomes for students, social mobility, and the UK’s international positioning in HE

Morning, Tuesday, 13th July 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine priorities, opportunities, and challenges for the rollout of the Turing Scheme, announced by the Government as the replacement for the Erasmus+ Programme.

It also follows:

  • the announcement of the International Learning Exchange Programme, the parallel scheme from the Welsh Government
  • the International Education Strategy 2021, the update aimed at ensuring that it continues to meet the UK’s needs in the changing landscape for international HE in the light of changes brought about by Brexit and COVID-19

Areas for discussion include:

  • implementation - key priorities, expectations, and challenges for the Turing scheme
  • opportunities - and assessing the prospects for widening access to international exchange
  • international partnerships - and the impact of the scheme on the UK’s position within global HE

At this early stage, the discussion is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who have already reserved places from The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

The agenda:

  • Sector priorities and challenges for student exchange in the wake of the pandemic
  • Developing Wales’s International Learning Exchange programme
  • Implementing the Turing scheme - transitioning from Erasmus+, supporting HEIs in the application process, funding priorities, and securing reciprocal partnerships
  • Priorities for maximising the role that the Turing Scheme can play in improving skills, employability and social mobility
  • Widening access to student exchange programmes - tuition fees and student finance, the role of flexible exchanges, and supporting disadvantaged students
  • Boosting student mobility beyond Europe - funding priorities, developing partnerships, and building on best practice
  • International exchange strategy and priorities for the UK’s positioning within the global higher education landscape

Key areas for discussion:

Implementing the Turing Scheme:

  • transition - considering challenges for providers as they transition from Erasmus+ to the Turing Scheme, assessing the administrative burden the transition places on HEIs, and ways to relieve pressure in light of other challenges faced post-pandemic
  • funding - looking at the outlook for rolling over unspent Erasmus+ funding to support the new scheme, and evaluating the adequacy of funding levels, especially in light of variability in travel costs and tuition prices globally
  • reciprocity - opportunities for future partnerships between the UK and overseas HEIs, and strategies to overcome the lack of support and funding for inward student and staff mobility, as well as for securing reciprocal exchange partnerships

The International Learning Exchange Programme in Wales:

  • ongoing development - considering the scope of the programme as it continues to be developed, as well as its implementation and international partners
  • sharing best practice - opportunities for sharing lessons learned for improving performance of the Turing Scheme, and supporting student mobility in the international landscape
  • including an address from Professor Colin Riordan, President and Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University

Widening access and participation:

  • funding - evaluating the financial support available for disadvantaged students, and assessing possible solutions for covering tuition fees
  • outreach - priorities for improving awareness of exchange programmes and encouraging students from disadvantaged backgrounds and areas to embark on them, as well as for ensuring a joined-up approach with broader HE outreach schemes
  • targeted support for students with disabilities - exploring options for:
    • how best to approach safeguarding students with SEND in light of the scheme not funding staff to accompany students abroad
    • ensuring adequate emotional and mental health support abroad
    • help for addressing social and cultural barriers

Skills and employability:

  • language skills - the impact of the scheme on encouraging language learning, and its potential for helping address skills shortages in modern languages, especially amongst the most disadvantaged students
  • work placements - looking at the expected impact of the scheme on graduate earnings and increased employment prospects, and dovetailing with the recent policy drive to improve social mobility

Student mobility beyond Europe:

  • non-European partnerships - developing international partnerships outside the EU, and considering the scope and nature of these partnerships, reciprocal exchanges, as well as examples of best practice
  • funding - evaluating the funding available for student mobility, and priorities for effective financial support for global exchange and travel

The broader potential of the Turing Scheme:

  • UK in the international HE landscape:
    • assessing the role that the scheme can play in advancing the UK’s position within the global HE landscape post-Brexit
    • options for enhancing the visibility and competitiveness of UK higher education
    • fostering and strengthening international partnerships
    • considering the scheme’s impact on UK soft power, and its place within the Global Britain agenda
  • inward student mobility:
    • opportunities for harnessing the scheme to help boost international student numbers domestically, and help reach the targets of the International Education Strategy
    • dovetailing with encouraging budding overseas research talent to consider working in the UK
    • the impact of a lack of support for incoming exchange students on the attractiveness of the UK, and options for improvement

A scan of relevant developments:

  • the opening of funding applications for the Turing Scheme - the new worldwide student exchange scheme replacing the UK’s participation in the Erasmus+ programme, supported by £110m in funding shared between colleges and FE and HE providers as well as schools, and aiming to hold 35,000 student exchanges from September 2021, with a specific focus on:
    • widening access to international student exchange, with:
      • disadvantaged students set to receive up to £490 per month for living expenses, along with grants covering travel costs, and promoting take-up in areas that did not typically engage with Erasmus+
      • students with SEND being eligible for funds covering the entirety of costs relating to the support for their additional needs, including pre-placement visits, risk assessments, and access arrangements
    • providing industry and work placements abroad
    • broadening the focus from EU countries to cover international student exchange globally
    • greater flexibility in placements, with students being able to embark on shorter exchanges of a couple of months
  • the International Learning Exchange Programme - the parallel scheme recently announced by the Welsh government:
    • backed by £65m to fund students and staff across universities, further and vocational education, and schools to work and study abroad
    • placing an emphasis on continuing and expanding existing, reciprocal exchange partnerships with European and global partners, with the programme funding up to 10,000 placements for participants coming to study or work in Wales
  • the International Education Strategy 2021 - the recent update to the 2019 International Education Strategy to ensure it continues to meet the UK’s needs in the changing international HE landscape, and in light of challenges brought by the pandemic, including:
    • a commitment to the Turing Scheme
    • reaffirming the commitment to reach a count of 600,000 international students coming to study in the UK per year by 2030, as well as increasing and promoting the recovery of the UK’s education exports
  • Global Britain in a Competitive Age - the recent Integrated Review setting out the UK’s international policy agenda until 2025, which the Turing Scheme is set to support, including commitments to:
    • foster international collaboration to tackle global threats such as climate change
    • strengthen the UK’s openness on the world stage, and drive prosperity
    • improve the robustness of national security, and harness science and technology to gain strategic advantage
  • Beyond Brexit: trade in services - a recent report from the House of Lords EU Services Sub-Committee, examining the outlook for the UK-EU trade in services, including as it relates to the education sector, with several comments relating to the Turing Scheme, including:
    • concerns over whether the proposed budget for the Turing scheme will be able to cover the costs of the scheme
    • regrets that the scheme makes no provision for inbound student mobility
  • recent concerns around risks involved in international HE partnerships:
    • Managing risks in internationalisation - guidance from Universities UK on guarding against the risks to research, Intellectual Property, reputation and values when engaging and partnering with international providers
    • Soft power and cultural relations in a time of crisis - the report by the British Council highlighting the intense international competition in higher education, and marking the sector as an increasingly important area for international reputation, economic development and access to talent

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by officials from The Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from other higher education stakeholders including UK and overseas university leaders, programme coordinators, teachers and teaching groups, student unions, foreign embassies, education charities, skills and employment platforms, academic researchers, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Celia Partridge

Assistant Director, Partnerships and Mobility, Universities UK International

Professor Colin Riordan

President and Vice-Chancellor, Cardiff University

Lord Bilimoria

President, UK Council for International Student Affairs; Chancellor, University of Birmingham and President, CBI


Tonia Antoniazzi MP

Officer, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Erasmus

Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle

former Leader, Green Party of England and Wales


Professor Johanna Waters

Professor of Human Geography, University College London

Professor Rosa Maria Martinez-Espinosa

Vice President for International Relations and Development Cooperation, University of Alicante

Ellen MacRae

President, Students’ Association, Edinburgh University

Professor Rachel Brooks

Professor of Sociology, University of Surrey

Professor David Carter

Head, International Study and Language Institute, University of Reading

Annie Willingham

Education Officer and President Elect, University of Bath Students’ Union

Professor Ly Tran

Research for Educational Impact Centre, Deakin University, Australia

Sabrina Starke

University Partnerships Manager, Absolute Internship

Dr Janet Ilieva

Director and Founder, Education Insight