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International Student Futures Report

UK universities should develop employment support for international students as a flagship pillar of their learning experience to remain globally competitive

A new report on the experience of international students, published today by the UPP Foundation as part of the Student Futures Commission, highlights employment support as a huge opportunity area for the UK. A national campaign should seek to support the employment ambitions of international students through all stages of their student journey if the UK is going to remain a top study destination in the future. Within this, sector collaboration to share intelligence about graduate opportunities for international students returning home, and to develop better links with overseas employers could significantly improve the support provided. For those international graduates choosing to stay in the UK and take advantage of the new graduate route, further work is needed to ensure that employers understand the new rules and opportunities to recruit international graduates.

Professor Mary Stuart, Commissioner for the Student Futures Commission and Co-Chair of the Sub-Group said:

“There is no doubt that many of these recommendations mean that a redirection of resources is needed. If government and the sector want to expand our market share then we need to invest, not just in marketing, but more significantly in the whole experience to ensure good graduate outcomes for international students. International students make a major contribution to UK teaching, facilities and research but this is not always reflected in the provision of adequate numbers of dedicated staff  to provide careers and progression guidance tailored to the culture and context of the students themselves. Students were very clear that gaining good employment post-graduation was central to their ambitions and the UK should take a lead in this area.”


1.     The UPP Foundation established the Student Futures Commission at the beginning of 2021 with support from Group GTI, Shakespeare Martineau and Wonkhe

2.     As one of the commissioners, Professor Mary Stuart, took on a sub-commission to review the experience of international students. She invited Amina Akugri, Vice-President International at the University of Lincoln Students Union, to co-chair the group.

3.     The sub-commissioners included representation from international students as well as key groups such as UKCISA, UUKi, the Asia Careers Group, and the “We are International” campaign.

4.      Three sessions were held through the Summer and early Autumn of 2021 alongside a series of focus groups involving over 60 international students from 7 different universities. The focus groups took a deep dive approach to explore the student experience in relation to three stages: pre-arrival, at university and post-graduation. The findings of these discussions are outlined in the report alongside supporting evidence from various reports and surveys.

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