Westminster Higher Education Forum

Growing international student numbers in the UK - recruitment, visa reform, student experience and career progression

Morning, Wednesday, 20th November 2019

Central London


This timely seminar will examine the next steps for international student recruitment and improving their experience in the UK.

It will be an opportunity to discuss the Government’s ambitions to grow the international education sector, as set out in the International Education Strategy earlier this year. Delegates will consider the practical next steps for meeting key targets identified by the strategy, including the headline ambition to grow international student numbers to 600,000 by 2030.

With the strategy outlining government’s aim to ensure that the Education is GREAT campaign better promotes the breadth and diversity of the UK education offer to international audiences, we also expect discussion on HEI strategies aimed at marketing the UK as an attractive study destination, particularly in the context of increasing European competition, in addition to issues around developing future pricing strategies.

Delegates will also discuss the potential impact on recruitment of students from both within and outside the EEA of visa changes outlined in Government’s white paper on post-Brexit immigration policy

We expect discussion on proposals which include requirements for EEA students to pay NHS charges and full international student fees without access to the tuition fees loan system, in addition to requirements for students to prove that they have sufficient funds to support their living costs for the duration of their stay, and their impact on student numbers.

Delegates will also consider the effectiveness of proposals designed to boost the attractiveness of the UK as a place of study, including the streamlining of the visa process by developing a new digital system to handle sponsorship, and the incorporation of twelve months leave-to-remain after PhD completion into the original study visa duration.

Those attending will further consider the international student experience, discussing good practice in pre-arrival administration and orientation, and strategies for developing an inclusive learning environment, including discussion on cultural exchange in the classroom, English language support needs and accessibility of academic support. Delegates will also discuss issues around student wellbeing, including identifying the specific support needs of international students and tailoring mental health interventions accordingly.

Further sessions focus on supporting international students as they complete their studies. Discussion is expected on how universities can enhance graduate employment outcomes for students. This includes discussion around preparing students for the global workplace by equipping them with cross-cultural skills and transferrable qualifications, particularly in the case of courses which are designed to adhere to the requirements of UK professional bodies.

Delegates will address the impact of white paper proposals to extend the amount of time students will be allowed to stay in the UK after graduation to six months. This comes as the cross-party initiative to extend the post-study work period to two years grows in momentum, with the Home Secretary backing the amendment last month.  

Keynote Speaker

Paul Jeffrey

Head of Student Migration Policy, Home Office

Keynote Speakers

Rebecca Staddon

Senior Policy Advisor, International and EU Exit (HE), Department for Education

Paul Jeffrey

Head of Student Migration Policy, Home Office

Gemma Turnbull

Senior Policy Advisor, International Higher Education, Department for Education

Dr Cheryl Matherly

Vice Provost, International Affairs and Vice President, Lehigh University, Pennsylvania and President, Association of International Education Administrators


Lord Lucas


Professor Simon Marginson

Director, Centre for Global Higher Education and Professor of Higher Education, University of Oxford

Roger Gherson

Principal Solicitor, Gherson

Alan MacKay

Deputy Vice-Principal International and Director of Edinburgh Global, University of Edinburgh

Fiona Samson

Director, GREAT Britain Campaign, British Council

Andy Winter

Campus Life Director, University of Nottingham

Anne Marie Graham

Chief Executive, UK Council for International Student Affairs

Anisha Faruk

President, Oxford University Student Union

Louise Farrar

Director, Student Recruitment, PwC UK

Professor Alessandra Scagliarini

Vice Rector, International Relations, University of Bologna