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New independent report warns of decline in international diversity within UK’s Universities

empty classroom

The International Higher Education Commission (IHEC) has announced the release of a new report, which has revealed a decline in international diversity of UK campuses. The growth in overseas student numbers over the recent past has not been accompanied by an increase in diversity, rather diversity has reduced because of the loss of incoming Erasmus+ exchange students and the continuing decline in the study of foreign languages by UK students. The report warns of the hollowing out of “international” capacity and capability on UK campuses.

In response to the findings, the IHEC calls for internationalisation at home* to be a central part of the UK’s next higher education strategy. The Commission publishes recommendations that will help redefine the strategic framework for UK higher education and establish a clear narrative surrounding the substantial benefits of international students.

Its latest report, titled “Is the UK developing global mindsets?” explores the challenges and opportunities of ensuring that the UK is globally engaged. Notably, the report suggests that if the UK is to sustain its world class education system, then building capacity and capability in different areas of internationalisation at home are needed.

As an independent and apolitical commission, underpinned by research, data and diverse industry insights, the IHEC will outline its new strategy for higher education in November.

The Commission Chairman Chris Skidmore MP said:

“As the former Universities Minister who published the International Higher Education Strategy over four years ago, I established the International Higher Education Commission – that includes VCs from universities from across the UK and former ministers from across all parties as well as other stakeholders – to create a new strategy with a bolder, more detailed vision and ambition than what has gone before.

“The commission has been producing reports as we progress, and I’m delighted to release the latest paper, on the underappreciated but increasingly important issue of ‘internationalisation at home’. Our evidence taken over the past year has shown that the UK’s international education offer simply can’t be about attracting international students to the UK, we need to ensure that campuses are international with attractive international based curriculums, exchange programmes and inclusive facilities that ensure international students want to study in the UK because we offer the best courses compared to competitor countries.

“We need to think deeper and broader about what we must offer as the UK experience- that means thinking more about how campuses and courses are more relevant, more purposeful to the modern international world that all students will be eventually working in.”

Co-author of the report and Dean for Internationalisation at the University of Kent, Anthony Manning said:

“Internationalisation at home (IaH) is the cornerstone of preparing the upcoming generation of UK and international university students for a more interconnected and promising future. While international mobility is much heralded and measured, IaH is less well recognised and under-invested. IaH should be a key feature of the next iteration of the UK’s international education strategy as part of developing a unique national approach.”

The full report can be found online here.

*Internationalisation at home (IaH) is the purposeful integration of international and intercultural dimensions into the formal and informal curriculum of all students within the domestic learning environment.

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