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Prime Minister Launches Strategy To Make Uk Leader In International Education


18 April 2006, Prime Minister Tony Blair has today unveiled two five-year initiatives to help secure the UK’s position as a leader in international education:

• The second phase of the Prime Minister’s Initiative for International Education (PMI), which aims to attract an additional 100,000 overseas students to study in the UK and encourage partnerships between universities and colleges in the UK and overseas; and

• The UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI) to improve educational and research links between India and the UK.

Both programmes are backed up with over £27 million in funding over the next two years from Government, the British Council, the education sector and businesses.

Hosting a reception for international students and programme sponsors at Downing Street today, the Prime Minister said:

“These links highlight the growing internationalisation of education at all levels. Increasingly education is crossing national boundaries as it prepares our young people for careers in the global economy. I am passionate about raising standards in education in our country, but that means that we must be willing to learn from the best in the world. It means sharing experience and knowledge and being open to innovation and creativity from whatever direction it comes.

“And it’s not just about getting students to choose UK universities and colleges. It’s about building sustainable partnerships between our universities and colleges and those of other countries. We want to see many more shared research projects, shared courses and joint degrees; we want to see more exchanges of students and academic staff; we want UK education to become genuinely international.

“Business also has a role to play, and I’m particularly delighted to welcome BP, BAE Systems, GlaxoSmithKline and Shell on board as Corporate Champions for the new UK-India Education and Research Initiative.”

Lord Kinnock, Chair of the British Council which is supporting the programmes, said:

“We very much welcome these initiatives and will play our full part in supporting them financially and organisationally. Education is at the core of everything that the British Council seeks to achieve because international learning builds international understanding as well as opportunity, creativity and liberty. These initiatives will help the UK to build lasting relationships of mutual benefit with the people whose talents will shape our World in the 21st century.”

Baroness Blackstone is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich, which has over 3,000 international students from more than 100 countries. She said:

"Students from around the world who study in the UK will benefit from a long tradition of high quality education with intensive, well taught courses. When they complete their studies their British qualifications will serve them well in the global economy. British
universities and colleges and their students also benefit greatly from working with people from all over the world. We learn from each other"

Editor’s Notes
This press notice relates to ’England’

1. The Prime Minister will host a reception at 10 Downing Street today with international students currently studying at UK universities. The reception will be attended by Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell, Lord Kinnock, Chair of the British Council, senior business leaders and representatives from the UK Higher and Further Education Sectors. Photographs are available from: Brendan O’Grady and Lucy Canning, Downing Street Press Office, Tel: 020 7930 4433.

2. International students will speak about their experiences of studying in the UK at an event at the University of Greenwich on Tuesday 18th April. A range of representatives from the education sector will be present, with speakers including Bill Rammell, Tessa Blackstone, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich and Lord Kinnock.

The Prime Minister’s Initiative on International Education (PMI)

3. The first phase of the PMI was launched by Tony Blair at the London School of Economics in 1999 to increase the number of international students studying in the UK and to encourage collaboration between universities, colleges, Government and other bodes to promote UK education abroad. It set targets to increase the number of non-EU international students studying in the UK by 75,000 by the year 2005 (50,000 in Higher Education and 25,000 in Further Education). The targets were exceeded ahead of schedule, with an extra 93,000 in HE and 23,300 in FE.

4. Total funding for the global promotion of UK education over the next two years (2006-7 and 2007-8) will be over £27 million of which £3 million is earmarked for UK/Africa partnership initiatives, £2 million for UK/Russia partnerships and £4 million for UK/China for scholarships and other partnerships – as well as £7.5 million for the UK/India Education and Research Initiative.

5. The second stage of PMI will be more ambitious than the first with a target of an extra 100,000 Further and Higher Education students. It will also have a wider international agenda, focusing on building sustainable partnerships between UK universities and colleges and similar institutions in other countries. It will aim to:

• position the UK as a leader in international education

• increase number of international students in UK

• Ensure that international students have a high quality experience

• Build strategic partnerships and alliances

• Maintain the UK’s position in major education markets, while achieving growth in student numbers from a wider range of countries

6. International students contribute approximately £5 billion a year to the UK economy.

The UK-India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI)

7. The Prime Minister announced the UKIERI during his visit to India in September 2005, with the aim of improving educational links between India and the UK. £12 million in funding was committed from DfES, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the British Council. A further £5 million has been committed through business sponsorship. UKIERI aims to support research projects which will bring benefit to both countries and provide opportunities for staff exchanges and secondments and joint PhDs.

8. The initiative has won private sector support, with BP, BAE Systems, GlaxoSmithKline and Shell committing to become corporate champions, each offering support of around £1million. Tata Group is the first Indian company to participate in the initiative, offering to support academic visits in key areas of research.


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