07 Oct

Students, yes; overstayers, no

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Yesterday saw Home Secretary Theresa May, one of the three favourites to succeed David Cameron as Conservative leader, set out her stall at their party conference in Manchester.

Her speech claimed mass migration was harming social cohesion in Britain and she announced plans to toughen rules on entitlement to asylum.

With concern about immigration at an all-time high here in the UK reaction to this hard hitting speech on immigration has divided opinion, with even the traditionally right-wing press seemingly surprised by it’s hard-hitting tone. The Telegraph’s (often nicknamed the Torygraph) by-line was Theresa May’s ‘chilling and bitter’ measures to send illegal migrants home.

Student visas

The Home Secretary also took a swipe at universities saying that she “doesn’t care” what their “lobbyists” say on overseas students.  She insisted that visa rules for international students need to be “enforced”

The UK welcomed the brightest students from around the world, she said.

“But the fact is too many are not returning home as soon as their visas run out,” she continued.

“I don’t care what the university lobbyists say. The rules must be enforced. Students, yes; overstayers, no.”

There has been speculation for some time that universities may be asked to take over responsibility for ensuring that graduates leave the country once their courses are finished.

Students as part of net migration

The speech didn’t mention international students in the context of the net migrant count. The Home Secretary is in favour of students remaining in the government’s target, whilst others in her party take the more pragmatic approach of removing them.  Remember – just last month it was announced that the government’s target of tens of thousands was in tatters, currently sitting at 330,000 (an all-time high).

There is speculation in the sector that if the government does remove students remove students from the net migrant count the trade-off will be a significant tightening of student visas in return.

What does this all mean?

In our most recent survey of international students they told us that the primary reason that they don’t come to the UK is because of lack of PSW options.  There doesn’t seem to be any chance that this will change.

The UK’s current mood music on immigration is also putting students off – there is a perception, despite our claims to welcome the best and brightest, that we are not open to international students.  This makes the job of anyone working in international recruitment much harder.

Any further visa tightening is likely to be met with more negative publicity in the international student community only increasing the perception that the UK is closed to international students.

 

02 Jul

Whole Student Lifecycle approach endorsed by new Minister

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Yesterday the new Minister for Universities and Science Jo Johnson made his first major, and much anticipated speech, about higher education.

The title of the speech ‘Teaching at the heart of the system’ signals his overall thinking and policy ideas about the future of the sector.  At Hobsons we are excited to see that the Minister has reinforced the need for a whole student lifecycle approach, an approach that we’ve been taking for sometime with our advising and admissions solutions.

You can read the full speech here and we think that as usual there is some particularly good analysis from Mark at wonkhe!

We were most interested to hear the Minister say that universities must continue to provide, and look to meet, student’s value for money expectations.  He also said that students should be able to make informed choices and that he will push for more data to be available.  We are big believers in more effective use of data!

We were also pleased to see a renewed commitment to teaching excellence including that institutions should admit students from a range of backgrounds and support their retention and progression to further study or a graduate job and, critically, that there should be clear set of outcome-focused criteria and metrics to support this.

We’ve been digesting and examining what it means for Hobsons and our clients and we think it means three main things:

One: Institutions that we work with are increasingly making better use of tools like Radius CRM to provide their prospective students with a joined up experience and timely, targeted and personalised communications.

Two: We’ve seen the institutions we work with really start to leverage systems, particularly at key times in the year like the lead up to clearing, to stand out in an increasingly crowded market.

Three: We are increasingly hearing from institutions that want to enhance their student success and retention initiatives and support students achieve their academic goals.

We are excited that later this year we will be providing the opportunity for more UK universities to access the Starfish Student Success solution and I’m personally looking forward to talking to delegates at the AMOSSHE conference next week about the impact it has already had for some institutions.

06 May

Policy Exchange Conference: Alan Milburn – Education’s Role in Promoting Social Mobility – a focus for the next five years and beyond

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Hobsons recently attended a Policy Exchange conference on education and social mobility, where Rt Hon Alan Milburn, who chairs the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission and is widely respected as the government’s social mobility champion, gave a speech to outline the part that education has to play in improving these respective elements of society over the next 5 years. Read More