Though colleges and universities in the United Kingdom have long attracted the best and the brightest from around the world to the country’s hallowed halls of higher education, a series of setbacks has forced some of the industry’s biggest player to rethink their business strategy. Particularly the UK’s student visa scheme has made it more difficult than ever for aspiring international students to come to the country. As a result, some UK schools have decided that if their students cannot come to them, then they will go to their students.
A new government program by the name of Education UK is being set up to help universities do exactly that. A product of the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the government-run agency aims to help British educational interests abroad by combining the country’s strong history of educational excellence with new technology to bring its unique product to international students around the world. According to Education UK, education exports are currently worth £14 billion to the UK but have the potential to rise to more than to £21 billion by 2020 and could potentially come in many forms.
UK MBA programs, for example, are working to connect MBA students living and working in different locations around the world using digital classrooms. Other institutions are going so far as to set up overseas campuses – most notably in the Middle East and India – by maximizing capital investment from private investors and strong links to the home universities. In so doing, colleges and universities may be able meet the untapped international demand for the UK’s brand of higher education while nearly sidestepping the very geographic limitations imposed by their famous hallowed halls.
Such initiatives, which also allow international students to study at some of the world’s greatest universities without relying on international student loans or other financial aid, are doubtless a sign of things to come as these historic institutions step into a new century of possibility.