further & higher education

Attracting International Students to UK Higher Education

further & higher education

08:45 - 16:10

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Central London, Central London

Early Bird Discount Offer

10% off all advertised rates for a limited time only. Discount available to public / voluntary organisations only.


This Forum will provide participants with the opportunity to share strategies to enhance the recruitment of international students to UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Attendees will hear from key policy figures on the new changes to student visa rules and receive guidance on building effective key international partnerships to improve international student recruitment practices. Best practice case studies will share innovative methods of attracting international students, including building effective marketing campaigns, establishing an inclusive and supportive environment and improving employment opportunities for international students, resulting in improvements to the university’s global standing and enhanced soft power abroad.


This Forum is specifically designed for the Higher Education Sector. Key job titles will include:

  • Heads of International Student Recruitment
  • Heads of Marketing
  • External Relations Managers
  • Global Engagement Officers
  • International Department/Office Heads
  • International Partnership Directors
  • International Partnerships Officers
  • Directors of Student Experience
  • Directors of Student Services
  • Heads of Quality Assurance
  • Heads of International Student Services
  • Directors of Student Support Services
  • Heads of International Student Support
  • Student Services Managers
  • Heads of Student Recruitment
  • Associate and Deputy Deans
  • Student Engagement Managers
  • Student Experience Coordinators and Managers
  • Professors and Lecturers
  • Pro Vice Chancellors

This Forum is also open to the private sector to encourage networking and debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Rebecca Standon, Senior Policy Advisor, International and EU Exit, Department for Education
  • Paul Blomfield MP, Co-chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Students
  • Anne Marie Graham, Chief Executive, The UK Council for International Student Affairs
  • Judith Lamie, Member, Midlands Enterprise Universities Group
View the agenda and additional speakers


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Professor Paul van Gardingen, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International and Development Research, University of Leicester (invited)


Morning Keynote: Understanding the Current Landscape for International Student Recruitment Across the UK’

  • Examining the International Education Strategy, 2019, including the goal to increase the number of students studying in the UK to 600,000 by 2030
  • Outlining new proposals regarding international students’ residence in the UK, including lengthening the time that international students can stay in the UK on a post-study visa after graduation from four months to two years
  • Understanding the new visa rules, including how international students must be studying at an institution with a track record in upholding immigration checks
  • Outlining how removing restrictions on the kinds of jobs international students can take on and imposing no cap on numbers can attract more international students whilst enhancing the UK employment market

Rebecca Standon, Senior Policy Advisor, International and EU Exit, Department for Education (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Highlighting the Importance of International Students to the UK Higher Education Sector

  • Highlighting the importance of international students to the UK economy, with an estimated net economic benefit to the UK of £20 billion, and examining how to utilise international students within employment and educational opportunities
  • Outlining the contribution of international students to the global standing of UK HEIs and the standards of UK research
  • Highlighting how, despite such substantial benefits, international student numbers in the UK are in a year-on-year decline and understanding the reasons for this, including repeated changes to the visa system, the introduction of national strategies for international student recruitment in other countries, and the UK being viewed as a ‘hostile environment’
  • Discussing how the UK can build a more sustainable future for international students, including the importance of clear, consistent and welcoming messages for international students and employment support for international students in their home countries

Paul Blomfield MP, Co-chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Students (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Utilising Social Media to Attract International Students

  • Discussing how using social media can have a significant impact on student choice of university, with 82% of international students consulting social media before contacting a university
  • Outlining how the University of Nottingham created a series of vlogs that explore different aspects of life at the university, such as ‘coping as an introvert’ or ‘managing your money’, and sharing the success of this, attracting over 11,000 views
  • Creating social media channels specifically designed for international students which provides content tailored to their needs and is available to answer their individual questions
  • Considering how universities can better utilise aspects of social media, such as photography, video and web to increase their presence for international students and increase the attractiveness of their university as a choice for international students

Donna Ball, Deputy Director, International Student Recruitment, University of Nottingham (invited)


Case Study: Expanding Global Outreach to Increase the Recruitment of International Students

  • Emphasising the importance of ensuring that international students are given the opportunity to find out more about a university, particularly for those who may not be able to travel to UK universities for open days
  • Tackling this issue by investing in a team to travel around the world and bring open day information to students in their own countries, such as through one-to-one sessions or larger presentations
  • Hosting ‘Coffee Chats’ within other countries, wherein candidates can bring their CV, learn more about the course, ask directly any questions they may have and gain an understanding of what the university has to offer
  • Considering other ways in which universities can cater to the needs of prospective international students and ensure they can access helpful information, for example by providing webinars
  • Understanding the differences in global outreach for students from different continents and offering guidance on how universities can tailor their programmes accordingly

Catherine Eames, International Student Recruitment Manager, Imperial College London (invited)


Case Study: Designing an Innovative Award-Winning International Student Recruitment Strategy

  • Outlining the university’s international recruitment strategy, designed to provide for international students who are unable to attend Open Days at the university
  • Sharing the university’s innovative approach to tackle the challenge of distance, through creating an augmented reality app which allows students to take a virtual tour of the campus
  • Highlighting key features of the app, including the option to follow animated characters around campus with the opportunity to click through to the AUB website for further information
  • Discussing the importance of aligning recruitment strategies with developing technologies and student habits, and how to embed this into the design process
  • Sharing student feedback on the app, including how students felt more included in the recruitment process, with the ability to experience university life from across the world

Simon Pride, Head of Recruitment and Marketing, Arts University Bournemouth (invited)

Winners of the ‘Best International Student Recruitment Campaign or Initiative’ Bronze Award, Heist Awards 2019


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Exploring the Future for International Students in the UK

  • Outlining the role of UKCISA in supporting international students as well as the institutions that work with them to ensure the overall experience for students is as positive as possible
  • Improving the international student experience by tackling barriers such as work restrictions and language barriers that international students may face, as well as enriching the experience for domestic students by internationalising their experience
  • Reflecting on recommendations from the September 2018 Migration Advisory Committee report on the Impact of International Students in the UK, including how to raise support for international education
  • Exploring best practice in providing inclusive and accessible support services for all students, and ensuring such services are tailored to individual concerns

Anne Marie Graham, Chief Executive, The UK Council for International Student Affairs (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Building Key International Partnerships to Recruit More International Students

  • Highlighting the benefits international PhD students in particular bring to UK universities, such as strengthening international partnerships which helps universities to diversify their income and enhance their global profile
  • Discussing the impact international students have when they return home after studying in the UK, for example increasing the UK’s soft power abroad, becoming informal ambassadors for the UK and UK universities, strengthening trade and research links
  • Examining how universities can increase the recruitment of international students through building key strategic partnerships with other countries to connect research, learning and teaching activity, alongside student and staff exchanges and collaborating with industry
  • Sharing how the University of Derby have established partnerships, for example through creating a dedicated team in Shanghai and creating academic collaboration agreements with key universities in China
  • Outlining key challenges UK universities face in establishing strategic international partnerships, such as being able to clearly demonstrate their key areas of excellence and promoting a positive image, and considering how to overcome these

Judith Lamie, Member, Midlands Enterprise Universities Group (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Guiding Student Choice -What Matters to International Students?

  • Offering the international student perspective on what UK universities can do to attract more international students and gaining an insight into what drives student choice
  • Considering key factors guiding student choice, such as a clear indication that taking a course will lead to a desired career, having a high graduate employment rate and having a good reputation
  • Discussing how international student experience can be a deciding factor, how students can find out about experience before enrolling, and what universities can do to improve this
  • Analysing how universities can better engage with students in their home countries to help them to make informed choices

Student Representative, University of College London (UCL) (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Establishing a Welcoming and Supportive Environment for International Students

  • Outlining how enhancing services for international students can help to develop a global reputation for international student experience, consequently attracting more international students to enrol at the university
  • Creating and embedding an International Students Committee or Network within the Student Union to ensure that international students feel represented and have a voice
  • Championing diversity and ensuring international students are supported through holding a range of events which celebrate different cultures and are inclusive, such as World Week and International Food Festival
  • Campaigning for issues which affect international students and providing initiatives to help international students to integrate into the university community

Mengya Li, International Students Officer, University of Sheffield Students Union (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Enhancing Employment Opportunities for International Students

  • Highlighting the importance of ensuring that international students are supported to gain employment opportunities during their course of study and post study, both in the UK and upon return to their home countries
  • Sharing guidance on how to support students to find employment in their home countries by offering tailored support to students overseas
  • Establishing a Global Careers Programme, which facilitates for international employers to deliver workshops, presentations and an employer database, and outlining how this has contributed to the international reputation of the university
  • Providing individual visa and immigration advice to international students to ensure that they are aware of their rights regarding working in the UK and able to access opportunities
  • Discussing how demonstrating effective career and employment support for international students can have a significant impact of a student’s choice of enrolling

Tim Cooper, International Student Support Officer, Coventry University (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*programme subject to change

International students bring a total of £20bn to the UK economy, alongside key benefits such as improving a university’s global standing and making a significant contribution to UK research. Despite this, the number of international students studying in the UK has declined, with Australia overtaking the UK as the second most popular destination for international students.

In order to combat this decline in numbers, the government published the International Education Strategy in March 2019. This strategy set out the aim to increase the number of international students studying in the UK to 600,000 by 2030, alongside increasing the value of education exports to £35 billion a year by 2030. This move to increase the recruitment of international students was further supported by the announcement in September 2019 to change student visa rules. The changes mean that international students are allowed to stay in the UK for two years after graduation to find a job – a significant increase from the previous limit of two months. There will be no limits on the kinds of jobs that international students can take on.

With huge demonstrable economic benefits to ensuring that the UK remains an attractive place for international students to study, alongside 55.2% of UK publications being the product of international research collaborations, it is imperative that UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) act now to ensure that they have highly effective recruitment procedures in place to expand their reputation among the international student population. This will require developing innovative marketing campaigns, enhancing the experience of international students in UK universities and building key strategic international partnerships with foreign universities.

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