This week’s news comes from the UK and Canada, with Scotland announcing that international students will be eligible for the Covid-19 vaccination.
In Canada, a recent announcement sheds light on the new pathway to residence for international students, with graduates playing an important role in the country meeting its immigration targets in the next three years.
Here’s your weekly higher education news roundup.
Scotland opens Covid vaccine rollout to international students
International students will be eligible to receive the Covid vaccine in Scotland, the government at Holyrood has announced.
Health secretary Humza Yousaf said overseas learners would be eligible to receive the vaccine for the coming year in line with guidance from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
The move will protect both incoming students and prevent further transmission, ministers have said. It aligns Scotland with other parts of the UK, who have already announced they will include international students in their vaccination programmes.
“Based on the latest data, we estimate there could be around 65,000 international students studying in Scotland in the next academic year. I am pleased to confirm they will be included in our national vaccination programme,” Mr Yousaf said.
Alistair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said: “International students are an integral part of Scotland’s university community. As a part of that community, it’s absolutely vital that they have the same entitlement to a Covid-19 vaccination as other students and we welcome the clarity for international students that the Scottish government has provided.”
UK Universities Minister speaks out on Turing Scheme
The UK universities minister, Michelle Donelan, has said that the UK government’s new outbound study programme, the Turing Scheme, will develop a new generation of “truly global citizens” among young people.
The scheme, first announced in December 2020, will support UK students to “take advantage of the benefits of studying and working abroad from September 2021,” she added.
Speaking at the British Council’s Going Global Conference 2021, Donelan said that with a budget of £110 million for 35,000 students, the “truly global” initiative will provide UK students with opportunities in “every country in the world”.
“No young person should be excluded from expanding the horizons because of their family’s income or other disadvantages that they’ve experienced in their lives. These life changing experiences will be accessible to students across the country, whatever their background,” she said.
Potential partners for the scheme include the US, Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, India and additional Commonwealth nations.
The Turing Scheme has been established to in part replace the EU’s Erasmus Scheme, which UK students are no longer eligible for due to Brexit.
Vice-chancellor of the University of Liverpool Janet Beer commented that the UK sector needed to “make the most” of the initiative to enhance global partnerships.
“Whilst we were disappointed that the UK would no longer be participating in Erasmus, the Turing outward mobility scheme offers an important opportunity for many young people,” she added.
Canadian government reiterate support for students seeking residency
The Canadian government has pledged its support for international students coming to the nation through the role they can play in helping Canada meet its immigration targets.
Minister for international trade, Mary Ng, said, “We look forward to welcoming international students back to our campuses across Canada once it is safe to do so.”
She also commented on the new pathway to permanent residence for many international students already in Canada, saying that the pathway was “a key pillar in our government’s commitment to welcoming more than 400,000 new permanent residents each year going forward, the highest commitment to increasing immigration in Canada’s history.”
According to a recent survey, Canada is the number one choice for agencies ahead of the UK.
“The postgraduate work and the permanent residency streams [are] absolutely critical for all the universities and colleges in parts of Canada that are outside of Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver. We really need these students,” said Sonja Knutson, Director of the Internationalisation Office at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Canada struggled to meet immigration targets last year due to the pandemic. In October, the government announced that it planned to attract more than 1.2 million immigrants over three years, in part due to the country’s low birth rate.