Today marks the launch of the 2nd EAIE Barometer, the research study that signposts trends in Higher Education internationalisation throughout Europe. We were delighted to work closely with the EAIE team to design and administer the research, which achieved responses from 2,317 university staff working in internationalisation across 45 countries.
The findings are of particular interest here in the UK, where the current dynamic political situation has exacerbated existing uncertainties regarding the future of international students wanting to study here. Global competition to attract the brightest and best international talent continues to grow at an unprecedented pace. Rival destinations such as the United States and Australia have witnessed a surge in international student numbers, whilst the UK is in danger of being left behind.
What do the Barometer findings tell us about internationalisation practices among UK universities, and how does this compare with their European counterparts?
In short, the EAIE Barometer highlights that this is a worrying time for UK universities developing and implementing strategies for internationalisation. One in eight (13%) UK respondents said that they felt negative about the future of internationalisation; this was more than triple the European average (4%). The reasons behind this despondency are clear, with fingers pointed firmly at Westminster:
- Six in ten (61%) UK respondents feel that restrictive national legal barriers are a key challenge in their pursuit of internationalisation (compared to 27% European average)
- Three in ten (31%) identified political nationalism evoking anti-international sentiments as a challenge to internationalisation (vs. 10% average)
- Nearly a half (45%) feel that national policies have a negative impact on internationalisation (compared with just 10% average).
As a result, UK universities are focussing more and more on internationalisation practices outside of the UK: 32% reported that over the next 3 years their institution will focus more on distance or blended international learning opportunities, while 29% are prioritising branch campuses and other transnational education activities.
We Are International
Contained within this week’s publication of the UK Migration Advisory Committee’s report was the recommendation that – counter to the anticipated outcome and hope of the sector – international students should not be removed from net migration statistics, which will no doubt come as a significant blow to the sector. However, the continued proactivity of individual institutions, and the sector as a whole, to welcome international students to the UK via initiatives like #weareinternational, shows great strides are being made to illustrate and maintain the UK’s commitment to internationalisation.
The IFF Higher Education team will be presenting highlights from the UK EAIE Barometer data at the Knowledge Partnership University Market Insight Conference 27 – 28th November.
Blog co-authored by Andrew Skone James and Elizabeth Shepherd