Flying the Union flag for global graduates

May 10, 2012

Top graduates need to be able to compete in the global economy, so we are pleased that the government has recognised the importance of international study for all students, including those not directly studying languages ("Willetts pledges partial grant to encourage overseas study", 3 May). We welcome its commitment to continue some financial support from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to encourage student mobility and to widen such exchanges outside Europe. It is important that leading universities can support student mobility sustainably, and we will take a keen interest in the details as they develop.

Russell Group members offer their students the experience of working alongside the best students and staff from around the world and lead the way in giving them valuable experience abroad. The group currently represents just 20 universities, yet its students make up more than 40 per cent of all Britons taking part in the Erasmus programme.

It also leads the way in offering undergraduates and postgraduates innovative exchange programmes with prestigious partners across Europe and further afield.

For example, University of Nottingham students can spend a term studying at its campuses in either China or Malaysia. More than a fifth of University College London students spend some time overseas during their courses. The University of Cambridge's engineering undergraduates are offered a year's exchange at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sponsored by industry, and doctoral candidates at Imperial College London have the option of joint summer schools with leading universities in China, Singapore, Europe and North America.

However, while better data on UK student mobility are needed, it is clear that the UK as a whole still lags behind foreign competitors in developing global graduates.

Wendy Piatt, Director general, Russell Group

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