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International students

We want to support the development of UK universities’ influence on the world stage, and ensure that the UK higher education sector remains competitive by international standards.

Education is one of the UK’s strongest export industries, and the impact of UK universities can be felt throughout the world. More than 1 million overseas students are now studying for a UK higher education qualification either in the UK or in their home country, and the UK’s excellence in research is underpinned by global networks of collaborations.

We want to ensure that the UK higher education sector not only retains, but enhances, its strong international position by:

  • working with the UK government to secure a favourable domestic policy environment for universities to achieve their international objectives

  • collaborating with Universities UK International to help our universities extend their global connections and influence by providing research and analysis of international trends in transnational education, outward student mobility, engagement with scholarship programmes, and recruitment

  • researching higher education policy developments abroad to understand how best practice overseas can inform the development of higher education policy at home

Our work on internationalisation is overseen by our International Policy Network, chaired by Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of the University of Exeter.

Free trade report front cover

Can free trade agreements enhance opportunities for UK higher education after Brexit?

25 April 2017
The inclusion of higher education and research commitments in future free trade agreements could strengthen the position of UK higher education internationally.

International research collaboration after Brexit report

International research collaboration after the UK leaves the European Union

25 April 2017
International collaboration is integral to creating world class research with impact, and it is vital that UK-based researchers have the ability, support and resources to collaborate with the best partners – wherever they may be.

Report cover

International students in UK higher education: the UK and its competition

25 September 2014
The UK higher education sector's reputation remains strong internationally, but recent immigration reforms have generated both opportunities and threats.

Report page

One size fits all? An analysis of the international student’s journey through the UK higher education system

2 June 2014
Examines the different data sources on non-EU students coming to the UK and what the data tells us about students’ destinations once they graduate.


What the British public really think about international students

13 April 2017
Karmjit Kaur, Head of Political Affairs at Universities UK, discusses the British public's perception of international students as an asset to the UK, and explains why international students should not be included in a net migration target.

international students

International higher education in facts and figures

2 June 2016
Today, Universities UK and the International Unit publish International Higher Education in Facts and Figures 2016, a handy booklet with key stats on international students and higher education.


FT letter: UK must remain open to highly skilled international talent

19 December 2016
Business, university and charity leaders - including the heads of the the CBI, the Royal Society and the British Medical Association - have signed a letter published in the Financial Times, saying that the UK must remain open to international talent.

The team

Daniel Hurley

Dan Hurley

Programme Manager
Universities UK

Rosalind Lowe

Rosalind Lowe

Policy Researcher
Universities UK