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EduSkills blog: Money money money

EduSkills blog: Money money money

12th February 2018

There have been some interesting developments over the past two weeks. Speaking at the Centre for Social Justice, Robert Halfon, Chair of the Education Select Committe, called for HE and FE to be intertwined, calling for more balance in funding. The speech was well-timed as the House of Lords Economic Committee met last week to discuss the funding gap between FE colleges and universities, and heard concerns from the FE Commissioner over adult education devolution plans. Meanwhile, universities continue to resist plans outlined by the OfS to force universities to publish the salaries of all staff earning salaries in excess of £150,000. And yet HE continues to expand, UK International report a 17% rise from 2012–13 to 2015–16 in transnational education. Interested in protecting education exports industry post-Brexit? Click here to read about my work with the HE Commission.

My work as the Research Manager on the Education and Skills team consists over managing all of the team’s research projects from start to finish, as well as carrying out research and authoring reports on behalf of the Higher Education Commission.

This week I have mostly been transcribing five whole hours’ worth of recorded qualitative data, and I’ve been in and out of meetings in Parliament. One of the more interesting meetings I had was with Preet Gill, the newly elected Labour Member of Parliament for Edgbaston. She helped Labour to retain this marginal, defeating the great grand-daughter of Joseph Chamberlain –‘the godfather’ of modern Birmingham. We’re delighted to announce that Preet has agreed to co-chair the Skills Commission’s next ‘A Spotlight on…’ inquiry into Gender and the Skills System.

Over the past few months I have been working closely with Lord Norton of Louth and Professor Simon Marginson on the Higher Education Commission’s sixth inquiry examining higher education exports. This valuable piece of work has at its very heart the welfare of the education sector as a whole. Our education system is world class, and along with Australia and New Zealand, the UK is a major exporter of higher education, with revenues generated in education export playing a crucial role in our cities and regional economies. In 2014, the total value of UK education-exports was estimated to be £18.76 billion, an increase of 18% over 2010. This includes revenue generated by international students in universities, further education colleges, and students enrolled in transnational education ventures abroad.

Exporting higher education presents an important opportunity for Britain to weather the implications of Brexit. Yet the industry is in a period of stasis. Through a variety of supply and demand factors, particularly the policy environment we find ourselves in as we get ready to leave the EU and changes in immigration regulation, the numbers of non-EU international students has been held, more or less, at the same level. Policymakers will point to the increase proportion of students coming from China, but this is at the expense of huge falls in the numbers of students from key markets such as India and Saudi Arabia.This has potentially disastrous consequences, given the report published by HEPI and London Economics a few weeks ago, which highlighted the enormous contribution international students make to the economy, with net benefits valued at £20.3 billion.

What is apparent is that we are currently losing market share, and in danger of losing our position in the world. The Higher Education Commission’s inquiry will seek to examine why and what can be done about it.

By Pooja Kumari (Research Manager)