UKCISA Conference: UK “Renowned” for Quality and Flexibility of Unis

The UK’s flexibility and quality of education make it an appealing choice for international students, according to delegates at the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) 2021 conference, which coincided with the official launch of the country’s UK graduate route.

Members of UKCISA, practitioners, policymakers and international students gathered for the organization’s first-ever virtual conference, which featured five days of speeches and sessions.

“Online or in person, I think we’ll all agree ours is a unique community committed to a great experience for international students,” said Anne Marie Graham, UKCISA’s chief executive, as the conference began on Monday (28th of June). And now, more than ever, that commitment is important.”

“We are here to make sure that every student that comes to the UK has a great experience as much as feasible. During the opening plenary, Koen Lamberts, head of UKCISA’s board, added, “And we work very collaboratively towards realising that.”

The UK’s Minister for Immigration, Kevin Foster, made a crucial statement during the conference on Thursday (1st of July), the same day that the UK’s new Graduate Route officially opened.

For the next intake, Foster told delegates that new Covid concessions meant that visa requirements regarding the necessity to remain in the UK to study will be extended until April 6, 2022.

“We are keen to avoid a spike in travel in late September and early October, not least because a number of our most important markets for international students, India, Pakistan, and I believe Nigeria [currently on amber travel list], remain on both the UK government and devolved administrations read lists, requiring them to enter managed hotel quarantine upon arrival in the UK.”

“To put it simply, we do not believe that using a huge amount of bandwidth in a couple of weeks for that [quarantine] reason is an appropriate path forward,” he added. It wouldn’t be very beneficial for universities to handle the entry of their own students via that test in such large numbers.”

Sir Steve Smith, the UK’s International Education Champion, gave a keynote speech at the launch of the UK’s graduate path, highlighting some of the things that he believes set the UK apart as a destination for international students.

“The UK’s role in offering high-quality education is well-known for its flexibility and choice. Students can pick from 50,000 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in higher education. As a result, our adaptability and the high quality of education we deliver are well-known,” he stated.

“Secondly, I believe that research’s world-class reputation is extremely important… We have four universities in the top ten, 17 in the top 100, and 29 in the top 200, depending on your league table. Also, I believe it is important that the UK is viewed as a truly accepting cosmopolitan country that welcomes international students.”

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Speakers at the conference, on the other hand, focused on some of the issues that the UK’s international education sector is facing. Panelists discussed ERASMUS 2021–27 and the potential hurdles to EU/UK mobility in a session focused on Brexit.

Iona Murdoch, president of the Erasmus Student Network UK, told delegates that students needed to be aware of the mobility alternatives available in the absence of Erasmus.

She stated, “We are going to start doing a lot of campaigning to increase awareness of what we have.”

“We’ve been travelling to different countries and attempting to raise awareness among all of the network’s local sections. But it’s difficult since the big one is Erasmus plus, and most people are familiar with that name.”

Making the most of the other schemes available to students in different parts of the UK, according to Murdoch, will be difficult.

“We are doing everything we can to encourage institutions to talk about the various options we have and to raise awareness of different programmes that you may perhaps do inside your university degrees, such as business and finance,” she added.

During the conference, the role of technology in the UK’s foreign education sector was also discussed.

Aaron Powell, UCAS’ chief digital and data officer and managing director, spoke to delegates about UCAS’ new multi-language mobile app, Myriad, which helps international students, their agents, and advisers apply for postgraduate programmes in the UK.

“We recognise that there is potential to provide candidates with greater information and advice. We appreciate that applicants have difficulty comprehending certain components of the application process, notably where they can find scholarships and other information,” he stated.

“We understand that finding a place to live is a concern or a barrier for candidates intending to come to the UK. We also know that applicants are particularly interested in learning about their job options, both after graduation and while still in school. That is why the Myriad proposal was created.”

Powell explained that Myriad aims to bring all of these elements together as a “one-stop-shop” platform for international applicants looking to relocate to the United Kingdom.

Myriad would offer a full catalogue of UK postgraduate courses, he explained. It will assist applicants in finding scholarships for which they may be eligible.

It will allow users to reserve lodging, with over 300,000 rooms accessible on the platform, as well as supply them with job leads and part-time work options.


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