Representatives from Welsh universities are due to attend a prestigious conference in the USA next week (31 May – 3 June), as they aim to build on recent work that’s seen an almost 25% increase in American students choosing to study in Wales over the past four years.
With over 12,000 participants from across the globe, the National Association of International Educators (NAFSA) conference in Denver, Colorado gives Welsh universities a major opportunity to show potential students what Wales has to offer – both inside and outside the classroom. With the USA being one of their main target markets, the attendance at the event rounds off a year of intense activity that’s seen Welsh universities represented at several events, conferences and recruitment fairs across the country, while in February the Welsh Government Office in the USA part-sponsored an alumni and partner event at the British Embassy in Washington DC to forge closer links with American institutions and businesses.
The increasingly competitive world of international student recruitment is of strategic importance to Wales, not only in terms of income and the wider academic and cultural benefits it brings to universities, but also the substantial economic benefits the students bring to the wider nation. At present, there are over 25,000 international students studying in Wales from over 140 countries, and in 2013-14 they generated over £600 million of export earnings and attracted over 50,000 additional visitors. Furthermore, international research collaboration has fostered links with universities and industry across the globe, which in turn expands Wales’ international reach.
Recognising the importance of this, universities have joined forces with key partners to form a new partnership called ‘Global Wales’, which brings together Universities Wales, British Council Wales, Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. The project aims to build new collaborative ventures, boost student recruitment and international research collaborations, while increasing the profile of the country in order to draw further inward investment and increase export contributions.
One of the driving forces behind Global Wales, and Universities Wales’s International Policy Advisor, Gwen Williams said: “Following extensive market research, we identified the USA as one of our priority markets and we’ve been delighted by the response we’ve had to date. The US is a mature market, but one in which there is considerable scope to grow student numbers and form significant research partnerships. It is also a market in which Global Wales partner organisations are highly active and where we hope a collaborative approach will significantly boost Wales’ profile.”