Giving evidence to the Higher Education Commission at the House of Lords


What happened when we gave evidence to the Higher Education Commission at the House of Lords


i-graduate, part of the Tribal Group, were delighted to receive an invitation on behalf of Lord Norton of Louth and Professor Simon Marginson to participate in the Higher Education Commission’s sixth inquiry examining Higher Education Exports. i-graduate deliver comparative insight to the education sector worldwide through various benchmarking tools.

The Higher Education Commission is an independent body made up of leaders from the education sector, the business community and the three major political parties. The Commission examines higher education policy, holds evidence-based inquiries, and produces written reports with recommendations for policymakers.

Aims of the inquiry

Overall, the inquiry aimed to examine:

  1. What are the obstacles to growing HE exports?
  2. What can be done to improve the value of exports post-Brexit?
  3. How can the UK advance the other benefits of international education export?

i-graduate were invited to contribute to the inquiry’s second evidence session which took place on Tuesday 30 January in the House of Lords.

The session examined international student experience including integration, servicing, institutional factors, and graduate work.

Representing i-graduate were Sir Drummond Bone, former Chairman at i-graduate and Master at Balliol College, Oxford and Jessica Howlett, Business Development Director Bespoke Projects.

This was an opportunity to share with the Commission key information from i-graduate’s wide-ranging data collected through the International Student Barometer (ISB) and the i-graduate ICEF Agent Barometer. 

The ISB is the largest annual study of international students in the world and has collected feedback from in excess of 3 million students worldwide. The ICEF Agent Barometer is an annual study of education agents in over 100 countries, gathering opinions of education agents worldwide and providing longitudinal perception data of the UK as a study destination for international students.  Both studies formed a key dataset to examine the questions of the Commission.

Inside the Higher Education Commission’s inquiry

Our evidence outlined the results of the widescale institutional surveys, drawing points of comparison with the global index and changes over time where the points addressed the question areas we were asked to look at.  Critically, we’ve stayed abreast of the important topical discussion points by continually evolving the ISB and annually reviewing theme questions. As a result of this, we had up-to-date information and hard data on hot topics such at the UK’s decision to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum, and the impact of Donald Trump in the US on international student and agent perceptions and experiences.

Discussion points were on the visa regime, and not least the impact of abolishing the post-study work visa in 2012 in the UK and what this has meant for recruitment – as well and further continued immigration-related demands and changes that cause innumerable issues for administrators and international students.  The point was also made on international students being included in UK net migration figures – whereas the competitor countries have positive strategies and recruitment targets to increase international student numbers, notably Australia, Canada, Germany, China and others.  The global marketplace for international study is dynamic and there are opportunities to be grasped, in India and across the world. There were also the concerns around post-referendum issues now faced by EU students and uncertainty about future flows and the overall student experience.

Final thoughts

The inquiry further demonstrated the important role our data can play by providing impartial evidence to leaders in the Higher Education sector. Our data helps to understand the perceptions and experiences of international students, informing debate at a national level, both here in the UK and in other recruiting countries around the world that aim to provide the best possible experience for international students, and strengthen and enhance their provision to the benefit of all.

We look forward to seeing the final report from the Higher Education Commission. Please contact us if you would like a copy. (link to

For more information on the ISB:

For more information on i-graduate’s innovative areas of research in this field:

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