• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 7:47pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

New UK strategy provides few real opportunities for overseas students

Jingan Young says plan to draw students from China and elsewhere fails to tackle lack of jobs

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 August, 2013, 4:30am

The UK's "new and improved" international education strategy aims to attract more than 90,000 overseas students by 2018. But with restrictive visa rules and hopeless job opportunities, what remains the draw for international students?

Released by the UK government last week, the strategy aims to increase the international student population by 20 per cent by 2018 (more than 90,000 students) and will boost its presence overseas by partnering with academic institutions abroad and opening "outlets" with particular interest in - you guessed it - China.

The report was accompanied by the revelation that the education export industry is worth £17.5 billion (HK$207.4 billion) to the UK economy. No surprise then that the new plan of attack comes packaged inside a report titled "Global Growth and Prosperity".

But will international students take the bait? One thing the new scheme makes no effort to reconcile is the visa catch-22. Once graduated, if you're without a job offer or sponsor and unless you're a burgeoning entrepreneur with lots of cash or are set to invest in the UK real-estate market, then you must, quite simply, "go home".

Business Secretary Vince Cable "reassures" us that there will be "no cap on numbers" on student visas but this desire to increase student immigration conflicts with the government's initial "pledge" to reduce migration by 2015. Last year saw the complete eradication of the post-study work visa, which allowed graduates to reside in the UK to look for work without a job offer. The strings are pulled ever tighter.

The current low employment rate also mean the chances of securing a job are close to zero. Most employers in the UK now have strict clauses on their applications. Not an EU citizen? No work visa? Don't bother applying.

It makes Cable's praise of overseas students' contributions to UK society all the more patronising. "Pay-as-you-go Education" might make for a better tagline than their current "Education is Great".

In May, I wrote about the harsh realities, both racial and cultural, that Hong Kong students often face when they study abroad.

But perhaps they should be more worried about their wallets. Reportedly in 2011, international students studying in the UK spent around £10.2 billion alone on tuition fees and living expenses.

The future for education may be a global one but the desire to integrate oneself and to take pride of place in where you choose to live, learn, study and work is teetering on the edge. Where you choose to study will soon be about where you can get the best deal.

Jingan Young is a Hong Kong-born playwright and freelance writer currently reading for a master's in creative writing at Oxford


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An interesting new worldwide book/ebook that helps students coming to the US is "What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.” It paints a revealing picture of America for those who will benefit from a better understanding, including international students. Endorsed worldwide by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it also identifies “foreigners” who became successful in the US and how they contributed to our society, including students.
A chapter on education explains how to be accepted to an American university and cope with such things as a new culture, friendship process and classroom differences they will encounter. Some stay here after graduation. It has chapters that explain how US businesses operate and how to get a job (which differs from most countries), a must for those who want to work for an American firm here or overseas. It also has chapters that identify the most common English grammar and speech problems foreigners have and tips for easily overcoming them, the number one stumbling block they say they have to succeeding here. Most struggle in their efforts and need guidance from schools’ international departments, immigration protection, concerned neighbors and fellow students, and books like this to extend a cultural helping hand so we all have a win-win situation. Good luck to all wherever you study! www.AmericaAtoZ.com
British collegiate re-invoicing business
for nostagic dreamers too thick to realise
that the Empire and its universities have declined
import cheap fresh goods
charge expensive storage for fermentation
export marked-up stale goods
My personal experience of top-notched universities
US – liberal and high standard
France – cultural and sophisticated
UK – parochial and pretentious


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