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)7951044809 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7538736244.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Recruiting and supporting international students - the new immigration system and the impact of the pandemic, marketing and the student experience, and next steps for the International Education Strategy

Morning, Thursday, 5th November 2020

Online Conference

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

This conference will examine next steps for attracting international students to study in UK universities.

Areas for discussion include:

  • improving the recruitment of international students and their reception in the UK
  • what proposals for a new UK immigration system will mean for the ability to meet goals set out by the Government’s International Education Strategy

Of course we also expect discussion to reflect how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting international student recruitment, and to bring out latest thinking on strategic options for mitigating the impact on students themselves, as well as on universities, their staff and operations, and their marketing

The discussion in detail:

  • COVID-19 - the impact of the pandemic on international students currently studying in the UK, and the potential further implications for those students over the coming months and years.
  • Remote, distance and digital learning - in the context of growth during the pandemic, and what this might signal for the broader future of international study in the UK.
  • The International Education Strategy - the planned update this autumn, and assessing progress on its key goals for increasing the numbers of international higher education students in the UK.
  • Visa and immigration rules - looking at options and how they will work best for the higher education sector and for international students, including assessing proposals to:
    • open new routes for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens to obtain UK student visas, and
    • introduce a new graduate immigration route for international students who have completed a degree in the UK, allowing them to work or seek work in the UK for up to two years.
  • Fees - strategies and approaches for the pricing of degree and higher education courses offered to international students.
  • The UK higher education brand - latest thinking on how best to maintain and enhance the perception of the UK’s HE sector internationally.
  • The international student experience - ensuring that arriving international students are met with a welcoming and inclusive environment.

Developments that are relevant to the discussion:

The International Education Strategy - and plans for a ministerial group to consider how it can be updated by autumn of 2020 to take into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemi

The COVID-19 pandemic

  • the recent government announcement of a support package for universities in light of the pandemic including a cap on admissions, financial support for students and an enhanced clearing process
  • the University Minister’s recent announcement of further support for international students, and the appointment of Sir Steve Smith as the first International Education Champion to:
    • work with key stakeholders to support international students in the UK
    • build worldwide networks for promoting the UK as an international education partner
  • a recent briefing note published by the Office for Students on ways in which universities and colleges are supporting international students during the pandemic, in areas such:
    • mental health and keeping up a sense of community whilst isolating
    • adapting to remote learning

The immigration system and UK international competitiveness

The agenda:

  • The outlook for international student recruitment in the UK and key policy priorities - with Rebecca Staddon, Senior Policy Advisor, International Higher Education, Department for Education
  • Examining the likely future mix of the UK’s international student cohort - with Michael Peak, Principal Consultant, Education Research, British Council
  • Driving the recruitment of international students in the UK post-pandemic - visa and immigration rules, support with admissions, pricing strategies, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The UK’s immigration policy post-Brexit and the way forward for supporting international students into employment
  • Welcoming international students and improving the international student experience - integration, inclusivity, remote learning and graduate career pathways
  • The future for the International Education Strategy - with Aisling Conboy, Higher Education Specialist, Education Team, Department for International Trade

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

This conference is no different. Places have been reserved by officials from BEIS; the Department for Education; the Department for International Trade; the Foreign Commonwealth Office; the Home Office; the Office for National Statistics and UK Visas and Immigration.

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

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording 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

Michael Peak

Principal Consultant, Education Research, British Council

Aisling Conboy

Higher Education Specialist, Education Team, Department for International Trade

Keynote Speakers

Rebecca Staddon

Senior Policy Advisor, International Higher Education, Department for Education

Aisling Conboy

Higher Education Specialist, Education Team, Department for International Trade

Michael Peak

Principal Consultant, Education Research, British Council


Lord Bilimoria

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


Jeffrey Williams

Chief Executive Officer, Enroly

Dr Louise Owusu-Kwarteng

Associate Professor in Applied Sociology, Sociology Programme Leader and Faculty Director of Undergraduate Research, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Science, University of Greenwich

Ben Moore

Policy Analyst, Russell Group

Anne Marie Graham

Chief Executive, UKCISA

Sarah Cooper

Careers Consultant, University of Bristol