Damian Hinds sets out plans for international education

The education secretary, Damian Hinds, discussed his ambitious plans for international education this week

Damian Hinds spoke to the higher education sector at an event earlier this week, to promote his ambitions towards the international education sector.

Regarding his proposed International Education Strategy, Hinds said: “Around the world our schools, our universities, our teaching, are all bywords for excellence. We have the best stable of brands in the business, complemented by the gift of the greatest IP asset in history: the English language.

“Few can claim to compete with the extent and longevity of our great educational institutions or the depth and breadth of our cultural heritage.

“I’m always in the market for ideas from other countries; there is no practical limit to what we can learn from each other and so others look to learn from us too.

“Education ministers from around the world want to know about our success with phonics, with school autonomy, and the turnaround story of our state schools especially in this city, London.”

A good number of world leaders have a British education, Hinds said, “but the thing about excellence is that you have to keep working at it, and as you raise your game, remember others are raising theirs.

“The International Education Strategy looks to increase the number of international higher education students to 600,000 by 2030.

“International students make a vital contribution to the UK economy. In 2016 they brought in almost £12bn through tuition fees and living expenditure alone.

“But international students mean far more to us than the financial benefits they bring. They bring greater cultural diversity to university and college campuses, and enrich the experience for all students who study there, as well as the wider communities. They stimulate demand for courses and add to the UK’s impressive research capacity.

“Growing the UK’s in-country transnational education, at both school and HE levels, is an area ultimately with even greater potential. It enables UK education institutions to reach a much broader and more diverse cohort of international students than ever before.

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“To be truly international and outward-looking we have to address some things much closer to home. We have never been world famous for our language skills, but this took a dive in 2004 when the decline of modern languages in schools began.

“Global Britain needs more – a lot more – children learning a language, at least one language, and that means we need a lot more language teachers, too.”

Additionally, in January, Hinds announced a new £2.5m programme to enable thousands more young people to take part in international exchanges and visits.

“Schools in England can now apply for grants to take pupils aged 11 and above to visit partner schools around the world, giving them the chance to experience different cultures, improve language skills and build independence, character and resilience. And the programme focuses particularly on children from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Hinds went on to discuss edtech and its flourishing position in the UK. The full speech can be read here.

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