Day one: “The net migration target should be put out of it’s misery”

Blog for members
04 July 2019
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Couldn't make it to conference this year? Just want to refresh your memory? Web and Communications Manager, Jane McCarthy, shares her thoughts on the first day. Please add any comments below! 


This year we’re welcoming 350 delegates from institutions and students’ unions across the UK to our three-day conference, to explore and learn about international student support. We kicked off today with a newcomers’ welcome, a variety of parallel sessions and an opening plenary with Lord Bilimoria; Shahid Omer, Department for  Education and Nick Hillman, Higher Education Policy Institute. 

Welcoming our 2019 delegates, Lord Bilimoria said:

“Higher Education is the Jewel in the Crown. The power of what we’re doing is priceless.” He called again to remove net migration target and re-introduce post study work.

Shahid Omer, Deputy Director, International Higher Education and EU Exit, Higher and Further Education Directorate at Department for Education, spoke about his views on international students. 

Explaining that international students are really important for the UK, not only for revenue generation but diversity, building skills for the labour market, and advocacy for UK higher education in their home countries. He said that the government now wants to create a welcoming environment for international students in the UK.

He set a challenge at the end of his presentation to the room: 

“As a sector, we need to make sure we consistently provide a wonderful international student experience.”

Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), shared findings from recent research, reiterating the importance of international students in terms of social benefits and soft power around the world. 

He talked about the targets in the International Education Strategy and said that while it was good to have a target to increase numbers of international students  the figure wasn’t ambitious enough. He then added:

“The net migration target needs to be put out of it’s misery.”



We kicked off our parallel sessions and workshops with peer learning on a range of topics, including discussions and exploring why international students rely on ‘friends’ to get advice rather than advisers, using social media to engage Chinese students, working in the UK.

I attended a session about using social media to engage with students. It was an insightful workshop which gave lots of practical tips about setting up social media accounts as well as anecdotal feedback about why Suzanne started using snapchat to supplement her students’ learning.

She said:

“The benefit of setting up the group yourself is that it’s completely inclusive, if students set them up privately some students may be left behind.” 

She reminded participants to ask students for advice, find out where they like to ‘be’ on social media and encourage them to help you set it up. Don’t underestimate how much they want to help and be involved!

Suzanne’s slides will be in our website shortly after conference so keep an eye on enews where we’ll announce when they’re live! If you couldn't make it to conference this year, keep up-to-date with everything that's happening by following #UKCISA2019


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