International Education Strategy

Plans unveiled to maximise Scotland’s reputation globally.

Promoting Scotland’s world leading university research and economic potential is at the core of the country's first International Education Strategy (IES).

The IES sets out plans to attract more academic staff, and to encourage and support international students to stay in Scotland after qualifying to work in key growth economies.

As part of the strategy, activity will be increased to promote  universities and colleges internationally to prospective students, with global alumni communities and the wider Scottish diaspora being engaged. Work to develop a Scottish Exchange Programme will continue, building on the current Test and Learn project, and a Talent Attraction and Migration Service will be  launched in 2024 providing information and advice for students considering staying in Scotland post-qualifying.

Launching the strategy at Edinburgh Napier University, Higher and Further Education Minister Graeme Dey said:

"Scotland already has more top universities per head of population than any other country in the world. This strategy sets out our collective aim to create the conditions for our universities and colleges to continue to flourish.

"In the coming months and years, we will continue to work with Scotland’s universities and colleges to help them diversify their international student, research, and staff population by enhancing our reputation as a world-leading safe and inclusive country, with open-minded social policies.

"We will help maximise the social and economic benefits of international higher education, and we will continue to promote Scotland’s world leading research and knowledge exchange sector on the global stage."

Professor Andrea Nolan, Universities Scotland International Committee Convener, said:

“This is Scotland’s first international education strategy, and it gives us a platform, working together with Government and other partners, to further develop these positive links to strengthen the sector’s contribution to the economy, society and culture. It also looks to deepen support for the full breadth of universities’ international role.

“We’re already known internationally for the quality of our higher and further education, but what may be less well understood is the role our universities and colleges play as major contributors to inwards investment, and the attraction of talented people who want to live and work in here. 

“Working in partnership we will build on all elements of our international work to grow our reach and impact.”


International Education Strategy

In 2022-23 more than 83,000 students from over 180 different countries came to study at Scottish universities, and international students made up a quarter of the total student population.

The National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET)  highlights that Scotland has more top universities per head of population than any other country in the world and is in the top quartile of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries for Higher Education Research & Development.



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