Stakeholders look forward to “more collaborative” relationship with UK government

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Speaking to The PIE News, UUKi director Jamie Arrowsmith said that Labour had already made some welcome interventions on the campaign trail, “saying they would change the narrative around universities”.

“That would make a real difference,” Arrowsmith predicted.

“We need the new government to work with universities. For too long, the relationship has been antagonistic,” Arrowsmith noted, echoing memories of the dependants ban and the rapid MAC review of the Graduate Route.

Fran Glover, the international student recruitment director at Oxford Brookes, echoed the sentiment that there was a “huge opportunity for a renewal of the narrative around international students”.

“We all know [they] are beneficial economically and socially, and bring huge soft power benefits to the UK.

“A new government could bring fresh approaches to internationalisation in UK HE, and this should be welcomed,” Glover warned, speaking with The PIE News.

“The noise that Labour in the UK has made around the need to lower legal migration, and the adjustments that the Labor government in Australia, show that this will be far from an immediate and all-encompassing move to pro-international student policies,” he added.

Arrowsmith delved into how Labour’s manifesto set an “ambitious” foreign policy agenda – and that universities “can and should play a vital role” in achieving the objectives within it.

Echoing Glover, he said the British universities’ reputation, as well as alumni networks overseas, “are engines of soft power”.

“But to make a proper contribution, we need stability in the policy and funding environment, and we need to find ways of mitigating the financial pressures on universities,” he said, noting he was by no means underestimating such a challenge.

We need the new government to work with universities. For too long, the relationship has been antagonistic

Jamie Arrowsmith, UUKi

Suggestions from Arrowsmith for immediate attention included simply making a positive statement towards international students.

“[Say] that they’re welcome, and provide reassurance that the pre-election announcements on the Graduate route remain in place,” Arrowsmith urged.

Nevertheless, stakeholders were in good spirits. Rachel Kimber, an expert within the sector, said it was a “clear signal to welcome international students back again”.

“I’m hopeful for the first time in years,” she told The PIE.

UKCISA is already looking to the next days as the next administration comes in, strategising how it will work with government champion international student wellbeing and standing in the UK.

“As we wake up this morning to the news of a change in UK government at Westminster, we’re looking ahead to how we will continue to work with ministers and departments to champion international students and all those who support them.

“We’re advocating for a sustainable international student policy, with five recommendations set in our Policy Paper ‘Equity, Inclusion and Innovation: a sustainable international student policy’”, Yinbo Yu, head of engagement and partnerships at UKCISA, told The PIE.

Sir Keir Starmer, the UK’s newly installed prime minister, attempted in his speech on the steps of 10 Downing Street to avoid party politics.

“With respect and humility, I invite you all to join this government of service in the mission of national renewal.

“Our work is urgent and we begin it today,” Starmer declared.

“I am sure we can take this opportunity to create a positive story for UK HE, but need to do so responsibly, otherwise we will put the government in a difficult position,” added Glover.

The post Stakeholders look forward to “more collaborative” relationship with UK government appeared first on The PIE News.

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