In a bid to bolster its international education sector, Scotland has unveiled a comprehensive strategy aimed at retaining foreign students’ post-graduation and enhancing diversity within its educational institutions.
During the country’s inaugural international education strategy meeting, the Scottish government outlined plans to introduce a new “Talent Attraction and Migration Service” later this year.
This service is designed to provide guidance and support for students considering staying in Scotland after completing their studies, facilitating their transition into employment opportunities within sectors experiencing growth.
Additionally, Scotland intends to leverage its nine international offices to promote transnational education through Scottish educational institutions and advocate for Scottish universities and their research on a global scale.
The strategy also includes initiatives to strengthen connections with Scotland’s diaspora and alumni networks.
A pilot project for a replacement scheme for Erasmus, potentially named the Scottish Education Exchange Programme, is also on the agenda for implementation.
The Scottish National Party has further proposed plans for a five-year post-study work visa for international students, aiming to encourage them to contribute to Scotland’s economy and society.
This strategy underscores Scotland’s commitment to attracting students, staff, and researchers from outside the UK to diversify its international student body and maximize their contributions to the country.
In the academic year 2022-23, Scotland hosted 83,000 international students from 180 countries, contributing £4.2 billion in economic benefits.
The unveiling of this strategy emphasizes Scotland’s identity as an “outward-looking, inclusive nation” that values its international education capabilities and export potential.
It stands in contrast to recent decisions by the UK government, such as the prohibition of taught postgraduates from bringing family members, which came into effect last month.
Launching the plan at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland’s Higher Education Minister, Graeme Dey, expressed the collective aim to create conditions for universities and colleges to flourish.
Professor Andrea Nolan, Universities Scotland’s international committee convener and Edinburgh Napier’s vice-chancellor, highlighted the strategy’s focus on strengthening the sector’s contribution to the economy, society, and culture, as well as deepening support for universities’ international role.