Education Sector Advisory Group 13 September 2021 – GOV.UK
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Updated 29 November 2021
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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/education-sector-advisory-group-minutes/education-sector-advisory-group-13-september-2021
Time, date and venue: 1pm to 3pm, 13 September 2021, Shireland Collegiate Academy / online
Chair: Minister Stuart, Minister for Exports, DIT
Secretary: Sarah Chidgey , Department for International Trade (DIT)
Iwan Davies – Vice Chancellor, Bangor University and Chair of Global Wales
Minister Stuart welcomed everyone to the first in-person Education Sector Advisory Group (ESAG) meeting since the COVID pandemic.
The Minister noted that the pandemic had not slowed the pace of work, and that there had been an extraordinary level of activity. DIT’s renewed drive to boost education exports is building momentum. Whilst this is being led by DIT, it is a collaborative effort with the sector. The Minister thanked sector representatives for their support; going forward this would be invaluable, particularly with amplifying messaging and promoting activities. DIT will be looking to make the best use of its Aventri events platform to share details of events. The meeting marks the first anniversary of Sir Steve Smith’s tenure as International Education Champion and the Minister took the opportunity to thank Sir Steve for his work so far.
Minister Donelan updated that we continue to work hard to welcome international students. An immediate priority is to support Afghans in rebuilding their lives in the UK. At least £12 million will help to prioritise educational provision for children, school transport, and any specialist teachers. In addition, access to student finance will be important and more details will follow. Scholarships are something that is being worked on. The Turing Scheme will be able to provide funding for more than 41,000 participants from schools, colleges and universities to study and work across the globe during the 2021 to 22 academic year, with grant funding totalling £98 million. DfE published guidance on what COVID-related costs the Turing Scheme can cover.
Immigration Minister Kevin Foster gave an update on the latest Home Office (HO) issues of relevance to the sector.
HO has, over the last two years, streamlined immigration routes and pathways for international students – the most significant set of changes since reforms to the former Tier 4 route at the outset of the previous decade. Changes have included:
Action 1: DIT to engage with sector representatives and Devolved Administrations on its new education export campaign. Closed
Action 2: Agenda item at an upcoming ESAG meeting to update on recent Home Office developments relevant to the education sector. Closed
Action 3: DfE and DIT analysts to work with the Devolved Administrations and sector representatives to further improve education exports data; ensure it captures UK-wide breadth. Open. Update: Ongoing. DIT analysts have offered to join a call to talk through the project.
Action 4: DfE and DIT to consider how best to coordinate strategic work on Europe as a key market for the sector, including member proposals for convening a working group with British Council and ESAG sector members. Closed
Action 5: DfE to continue engagement with BESA on international implications for domestic commercial activity. Closed
Action 6: DfE / DIT to consider issues and proposals raised by ESAG regarding the interaction between regulation, domestic policy and exports. Closed.
Action 7: DfE and DIT to work with the education sector to agree a process of engagement to ensure its interests are considered within Free Trade Agreement negotiations. Closed
Action 8: DIT to share information on possible sector involvement in the Global Education Summit in July with ESAG members. Closed
Action 1: DIT, DfE, HO/UKVI to work with OfS on ensuring providers are engaging with HO/UKVI on visa requirements. Open Update: Ongoing – OfS continue to liaise with DfE and HO, informing their engagement with providers.
Action 3: DfE and DIT to explore visa briefing idea with Home Office/UKVI. Open Update: Ongoing – DfE continues to work closely with HO in contributing to and providing feedback on HO communication products.
Action 8: DIT to follow up with UK Skills partnership to discuss the barriers to recognition. Closed.
In the last 12 months, Sir Steve has undertaken approximately 240 meetings (mostly virtual due to the pandemic), averaging 20 per month. Most domestic engagement has been linked with HE where there was the most opportunities. Close engagement with the Devolved Administrations has helped to understand the differences in representing the UK.
As COVID-19 restrictions ease, engagement with priority countries will become face to face. Sir Steve’s five immediate priority markets are: India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Nigeria. Other important markets include Brazil, Mexico, Pakistan, Europe, China and Hong Kong. These comprise both established markets and markets that have been identified as having longer term growth potential.
Sir Steve’s personal highlights over the past 12 months have been:
The ultimate measures of success will be increased education exports and Sir Steve has made progress with:
Looking forward to the next 12 months, Sir Steve would like to build up an engagement plan with:
Sir Steve was keen to hear from the ESAG sector members and ministers on where the focus of his work should be in the next 12 months. Key points raised were as follows:
Action 1: A verbal update for the Scottish International Education Strategy (IES) at the ESAG meeting on 1 December followed by a more substantial conversation at ESAG meeting in March 2022. (Secretariat to add to the ESAG forward look)
Action 2: Create case studies to bring the UK offer to life for engagement with priority countries.
Emirjona Gjana, DfE, gave a brief update on progress made against the IES action to develop plans for an International Qualified Teacher Status (iQTS).
In February 2021, DfE launched a public consultation on iQTS which sought views on the proposed framework and viability of iQTS (the outcome is at the link here).
The consultation response launched on 24 August 2021 summarised feedback and announced the introduction of iQTS as a new export opportunity for accredited English ITT providers to deliver high-quality teacher training around the world. Pilot events will be held by DfE in September 2021.
DfE will publish guidance on the new iQTS framework on GOV.UK. The first iQTS courses will begin in September 2022.
Ed Matheson gave a joint update for DfE/DIT on FTAs and confirmed any further announcements will be shared with ESAG.
Over the summer meetings were held with the sector and thanks were expressed to ESAG members for encouraging wide participation. These focused on the FTA consultation process for India, Canada and Mexico, and encouraged sector responses. The overall consultation findings will be published in November ahead of negotiations. Further updates, where substantive, will be presented to the next ESAG. Ed asked members to reach out on responses if they have any further input to share.
With time constraints, members gave brief updates on their respective sectors to supplement their written updates.
British Council – The British Council’s new Chief Executive, Scott McDonald, started on 1st September. BC have been busy with situation in Afghanistan.
British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) – With the restart of international travel, BESA’s priority is working to help suppliers prepare for a return to face-to-face events, the first of which will be GESS Dubai in November. Additionally, keen to ensure that the UK maintains its international position as the leading facilitator of education discussion and working to ensure that both BETT and EWF resume in a physical setting in January 2022. Whilst awaiting details of any potential replacement to the TAP programme, BESA are signposting members to the Internationalisation Fund and making introductions with DIT’s ITAs to take forward individual export action plans.
Council of British International Schools (COBIS) – There has been a delay in recognising Covid-19 vaccinations administered overseas; with the detrimental impact that this is having on the recruitment/retention and well-being of staff based overseas, as some face the prospect of a second Christmas not being able to travel back to the UK without disruptive and expensive quarantine challenges.
Action 3: Officials to follow up directly with the team working with the Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment
The Chinese government continues to tighten regulations connected to the influence of international schools. As a result, established and planned British schools face fresh pressures; connected to visas; curriculum, textbooks, commercial arrangements, operating structure and issuing of licences.
After a period of limited activity, pleased to see that an increasing number of DfE BSO inspections are scheduled for the Autumn. The COBIS Patron’s Accreditation and Compliance (PAcc) scheme has been actively throughout the pandemic; with Hungary and Romania now formally recognising the scheme. A MoU relating to the formal recognition of COBIS PAcc, has been presented to the Thai Ministry of Education for their consideration.
English UK – Many ELT providers are still struggling; but 86% of members have survived the pandemic – better than expected. Thank you to DIT for support. Projects have been on hold due to the pandemic, such as the Hungarian Foreign Language Programme – now planning for summer 2022, which will be critical for UK ELT sector recovery. Students will be eligible for an English language summer course in either the UK, Ireland or Malta; concerns that we might now lose some of the potentially 90,000 students to the latter.
IHE – Membership continues to grow, and now includes the College of Medicine and Dentistry and the British Academy of Jewellery bringing the association to 59 member institutions. Members will meet for the first time since the pandemic at IHE’s Annual Conference on 12 October in London.
UKSP – Thanked DIT for its support. New working groups have been set up with Jonathan Ledger, DIT TVET Specialist, as secretariat. The British Council is supporting UKSP with funding to enable marketing and insight work (including a three-country study). On the IES export data action, British Council is also funding a TVET sector wide survey to identify the value of UK TVET exports over the last year or two; to be delivered by January 2022. There is increasing cross sector involvement of EdTech to design innovative online programmes that can teach skills remotely across a number of traditionally classroom-based industry sectors.
Universities UK International – reported student visa applications down 56% for EU; up 9% for non-EU. Thanked work of Home Office. Students travelling to Spain for their year abroad have been facing difficulties obtaining visas. Many have been unable to get appointments at the Spanish Consulate, and there is a lack of clarity about the rules and guidance. Additionally, there have been delays at the FCDO Legalisation Office where GP letters have to be certified. UUKi have written to the Spanish Consul General to convey concerns and are in touch with the FCDO to register concern at the delays there. UUKi continue to engage with the British Council and members to share updates on these issues, and on issues faced in other EU countries.
Early Years Alliance – attention remains focused on the domestic market and the sector continues to experience reduced interest in international activity. The Alliance has undertaken a survey with providers seeking their views in respect of both domestic and international investment. 8% are currently considering further domestic investment but only 2% are considering international and that relates to training exports. Overseas interest is likely to remain low.
Scotland: The new Scottish Government is committed to producing an International Education Strategy. No indications about themes as yet, but clear that there needs to be alignment with the UK IES. As such, it was emphasised. that whilst Scottish Universities needed to maintain their individuality, they should be clear that they are part of the wider UK university system.
Rupert Daniels, Director, DECS, DIT gave an overview of the ‘How Will We Learn week’ at Dubai Expo.
Date of next meeting: 1 December 2021 at 11am to 12.30pm
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