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Education Exports

Volume 638: debated on Thursday 29 March 2018

The latest statistics, released earlier this year, estimate total UK education exports and transnational education activity to have been £19.3 billion in 2015. That is an increase of 3% on the previous year and of 22% since 2010, in current prices. The Government continue to support education providers in this vital sector.

Many small businesses in and around my constituency either need help to begin to export or are already exporting in education and other goods and services. For example, a constituent of mine, Mr John Bowers, owns the company Bowers & Freeman, an SME that specialises in groundbreaking and innovative fasteners for the aerospace industry. What is the Department doing to ensure that SMEs such as Bowers & Freeman get the help that they need, whether in education or other goods and services sectors?

UK Export Finance offers competitive finance and insurance to SMEs of all sorts that want to export. My hon. Friend mentions one company in his constituency; I am pleased to say that UKEF recently provided bond support to another, Ram Universal, to help it to export its high-quality valves to India. The Government’s export strategy will look at SMEs’ need and design information and services appropriate to them.

Torbay’s language schools provide a valuable source of educational exports by encouraging students from across the world to learn here. What work is the Minister’s Department doing to assist them in securing trade from growing economies in Asia, as the Devon School of English recently did in Taiwan?

The Department for International Trade’s dedicated education teams are focused on developing a pipeline of overseas opportunities that are then matched with UK providers. That is enhanced by the DIT-led English language working group, which brings representatives together from across the sector. I look forward to seeking further export opportunities in Taiwan when I visit there in a couple of weeks.

Further to the reports that education exports are worth some £19 billion annually, does the Minister have an indication of how that figure will grow as we attempt to move our eyes away from only Europe towards a greater global vision?

I am delighted to say, as has been discussed so often today, that exports are up—not least in the education area. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said, 90% of global growth is expected to be outside the EU. We will have a close and extremely important partnership with the EU, but the opportunities are out there, which is why he and other colleagues in this Department are so dedicated to building economic international opportunities for the country in the future.