Matthew Knott, News Editor of StudyTravel Magazine
Opinion... from the News Editor

Happy New Year to all of our readers! It has been great to start 2018 with some positive news stories this week.

Firstly, the UK government has offered a little hope to the international education industry with the expansion of a pilot visa scheme for non-EU master's students. The participating institutions will take greater responsibility for the checking of documents, and students will be granted more favourable post-study conditions.


The expansion to an additional 23 universities removes the whiff of elitism that accompanied the original pilot scheme, given that it commenced with Oxford, Cambridge, Bath and Imperial College. Needless to say, many will be looking for the government to go much further, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.


Since the announcement of the expansion, there has been much debate - again - on the status of international students in migration statistics. It has been suggested in local media that the Prime Minister alone stands in the way of the removal of students from the data, and that if an MP were to table an amendment to the forthcoming Immigration Bill on removing students, Theresa May would be powerless to stop it.


The Prime Minister's office has stood firm in response to those suggestions, but nonetheless it makes this week's guest 'View from the desk of.' article on the impact of current settings by James Pitman of Study Group particularly topical.


But ultimately, the reinstatement of post-study work rights, which the pilot scheme is seemingly edging towards, would be more beneficial to students, agents and institutions than the removal of students from migration statistics - a symbolic issue that has become a rallying cry for the industry but by itself in isolation wouldn't do anything to make the UK more attractive.


Elsewhere, we have positive growth again from Japan, where an 11.6 per cent rise in international students in 2017 is pushing the industry there towards the government's target of hosting 300,000 students by 2020.


It could be pointed out that since the announcement of that ambitious target, the government has arguably massaged the figures by starting to include long-term language students in the data in order to get closer. But that doesn't mask the fact that both higher education and language sectors have both been posting double-digit growth over the last three years.


We also have the welcome resumption of full visa services by the USA in Turkey, and vice versa. The dispute that developed out of the arrest of a US consulate employee hasn't entirely disappeared, but the Diplomatic Mission said it was satisfied that assurances from the Turkish government were being adhered to and could resume full services.


The USA is the second-most popular destination for Turkish students, as StudyTravel Magazine's Turkey agency surveys regularly show, so any longer-term suspension or partial service would have been damaging for Turkish agents and American institutions.


Other positive stories this week include a school opening putting Darwin on the international education map, a USA high school acquisition, a new pathway partnership and growth for Navitas, and the expansion of international student accommodation options in Dresden.


And STtv is up and running for 2018, with the first weekly news broadcast of the year live now.


Happy reading or watching!


By Matthew Knott

News Editor