The 2021 Council of British International Schools (COBIS) annual survey, representing 115 schools, indicates that more students are choosing universities outside of the UK after leaving school.
While 96% of school leavers are going to university, only 42% of those are going to university in the UK – down from 50% in 2020 and 53% in 2019.
Students who chose universities outside of the UK reported several reasons influencing their decision. Included in these responses were the cost of university in the UK (51%), potential challenges with UK visas (36%), Brexit (30%) and preference for a university closer to home (30%).
Colin Bell, CEO at COBIS, said: “While this global outlook is to be encouraged, if the UK Government is to meet its target from the 2021 International Education Strategy of increasing the number of international HE students studying in the UK to 600,000 per year, they will need to consider what further support and recognition they can offer to high-quality, accredited British schools operating overseas.
“To support our schools and their students, COBIS is committed to strengthening long-term strategic partnerships with the UK HEIs in both domestic and transnational educational provision.”
To support our schools and their students, COBIS is committed to strengthening long-term strategic partnerships with the UK HEIs in both domestic and transnational educational provision – Colin Bell, COBIS
The report also shows how schools have adapted to the pandemic. Many schools reported continuing to implement changes due to Covid-19, but the number of schools reporting these changes has decreased.
Many schools indicated keeping some of the changes implemented as a result of the pandemic – including virtual parent/teacher interviews (80%), increased technology usage for personalised learning (75%) and increased wellbeing support (68%).
The survey also shows that the pandemic is continuing to have an impact on teacher recruitment. Forty-two per cent of schools reporting difficulties with visas and pre-employment checks, and 34% reporting a delayed start of international staff due to travel restrictions.
Despite the challenges of Covid-19, the overall picture regarding pupil numbers in COBIS schools is positive. Fifty-one per cent of responding schools reported that pupil numbers had increased for 2021/22, compared with 22% in the 2020 survey.
Bell continued: “The findings in the report show a positive picture about how high-quality COBIS schools are navigating the challenges of the past two years, with increases in student numbers, and more schools fully open at the time of data collection. But the impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt, including in the area of teacher supply where there are ongoing difficulties with visas and pre-employment checks.”
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