‘Partnerships in tertiary education hold tremendous potential’
The foreign education bill may open possibilities, says a Welsh minister
In a freewheeling interview with HT Education, minister for education and skills in the Welsh government, Leighton Andrews, spoke about issues such as the withdrawal of the post-work visa options for students, future plans of Welsh universities. Excerpts How have tough visa rules and withdrawal of the post-work visa option impacted the number of Indian students planning to pursue their higher studies in the UK, especially Wales. What corrective measures/alternative options have been worked out to check the likelihood of the numbers going down? While immigration is not a devolved matter, the Welsh government is aware of the potential impact of the UK government’s immigration policy on the ability of Welsh higher education institutions to attract international students. The intro- duction of tighter controls is aimed at identifying bogus institutions and students and this is welcomed by me and the higher education sector.
I am concerned that the further tightening of the student visa process may decrease the attractiveness of the UK, and hence Wales, as a destination of choice for overseas students. Statistical data from the Higher Education Statistical Agency between 2007/08 and 2010/11 shows a year on year increase in students from India (nationality not ethnicity) studying in Welsh higher education institutions. In the event of the foreign universities bill being passed by the Indian parliament, will universities in Wales set up campuses in India or focus on strengthening partnerships with Indian institutes? Although Welsh higher education institutes (HEI) have little tradition of establishing campuses in other countries, (Bangor has plans currently in China), the passing of this legislation may open up new opportunities abroad.
There are many factors that will need to be considered before universities in Wales make such a decision. However, it is much more likely that Welsh HEIs will seek to build new or strengthen existing partnerships with the Indian government or particular Indian universities (more usually referred to as ‘institutes’ there).
The growing number of students interested in entering tertiary education offers opportunities for UK institutions to engage in long-term partnerships with Indian institutions on many levels: research collaboration, articulation arrangements, and branch campuses exchange programmes to mention a few.