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Overseas students plans unveiled

Tony Blair has unveiled plans to bring more overseas students to UK universities during the next five years.

There are currently around 300,000 international students studying in the UK, but the number is set to triple by 2020, according to recent predictions.

Overseas students, who are charged higher fees than British students, currently bring in around £10bn to the UK economy as a whole. Firms including BAE Systems and Shell will sponsor the project.

The Prime Minister said he wanted more shared projects, courses and degree, as well as more staff exchanges between the UK and elsewhere. After launching a new UK-India initiative as part of the UK’s Initiative for International Education, the Prime Minister explained his plans to highlight “internationalisation of education.”

He explained: “Increasingly education is crossing national boundaries as it prepares our young people for careers in the global economy. It’s not just about getting students to choose UK universities and colleges. It’s about building sustainable partnerships between our universities and colleges and those of other countries.”

Conservative spokesman for higher education Boris Johnson noted: “I have just been to China and seen for myself how fierce the market is becoming in international students. Rather than setting more targets and quotas we must make sure that UK universities continue to offer the best possible education for the world’s brightest students.”

Professor Drummond Bone of Universities UK said he was in favour of the initiative, but concluded: “We must work hard to maintain our status as one of the foremost partners in international higher education. This, after all, is a major export industry – worth more than food and drink, tobacco, insurance, ships and aircraft. It could be worth £20bn to the UK economy by 2020.”

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