Wales is proving to be a very attractive destination to international students, offering a unique, vibrant and welcoming experience. International students enrich the student experience, enhance learning and teaching, and help to make Welsh graduates more prepared for the international labour market in a range of cultural settings. In the academic year 2013-14, international students made up 19% of the student population in Wales, with over 25,000 studying here from 145 countries worldwide.
International students contribute significantly to Wales’ economic as well as cultural prosperity. Universities generated £530 million of export earnings in 2014, which is equivalent to 4% of all Welsh exports. This created 7,600 jobs and generated some £400m of Welsh GVA over the same period.
Wales’ universities work hard to support international students throughout their experience of study here – from pre-arrival and pre-sessional support, to graduation and beyond. As a result of the social and cultural links they make at university, international students maintain close ties with Wales after they have graduated. Wales’ network of international alumni act as positive overseas ambassadors forging and developing important links between Wales and a wide range of global businesses and contacts.
Internationalisation in higher education is not simply about recruiting international students to come and study in Wales. Students and staff in Wales are also supported to be internationally mobile – this may be through physically relocating to another country for a period of time, or through increased online participation with international peers. International mobility allows students and staff to demonstrate their global mindset, develop foreign language skills, and enhance their international cultural awareness – all of which in turn benefits Wales’ economy and communities.
Universities Wales supports the UK Outward Mobility Strategy managed by the UK Higher Education International Unit. More information on opportunities for outward mobility can be accessed here.
International Research Collaboration
Wales is also a destination of choice for leading academics from across the globe to collaborate on ground-breaking research. The results of the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014 cemented Welsh universities’ position as a leading international destination for research collaboration, with more than three-quarters of the research submitted judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. More information on research in Wales can be found here.
Given the substantial cultural and economic impact of Welsh universities’ international activities, Universities Wales has joined together with the Welsh Government, British Council Wales and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) to form the ‘Global Wales’ partnership. The project, which aims to boost both student recruitment and international research collaboration, promotes Welsh universities in key overseas markets. The aim is to build new collaborative ventures and to increase Wales’ visibility overseas thereby attracting further inward investment. The programme will operate joint outward missions, inward visits and further promotional activities through the delivery of the ‘Study in Wales’ brand. The partnership is focusing its activities for the first three years of the project in the United States and Vietnam.