British export minister on promotional tour to Thailand

Attending the BETT Asia Show with a delegation of 12 UK companies, Fysh said the government “wants to see more UK companies enter the global education market”.

“The UK education sector is one of the jewels in the crown of our services export and I am delighted to see so many British companies here at BETT Asia,” he said.

“Through shows like BETT Asia, companies can be really successful and sell their services worldwide. When more companies export, it creates jobs and growth for the economy.”

The Department for International Trade is hoping to help UK education exports reach £35 billion by 2030 – a key target of the country’s international education strategy. In 2019, education exports contributed £25.2 billion to the UK economy.

Opening the BETT Asia conference, Fysh explained that the UK “shares” a passion for education with Thailand and ASEAN.

“Let’s work together now to strengthen our links in education and bring together a new generation of young people in the UK, Thailand and across ASEAN through the power of learning,” he told delegates.

As ASEAN’s newest dialogue partner, Britain is committed “to deepening cooperation” in the field of education, the minister said.

“We must work side-by-side with ASEAN countries to remove barriers to partnership in this area… and free our schools, colleges and universities to thrive in each other’s markets.”

Government-to-government engagement will help make progress, he suggested.

He pointed to the Joint Economic and Trade Committee the UK and Thailand formed in June – “which could be the first step towards a free trade deal” – and the five-year action plan agreed with ASEAN members in August , as initiatives that could “Help us unlock more of our collective trading potential”.

He also noted the importance of memorandums of understanding the UK has signed with Malaysia and Vietnam, and another memorandum of understanding with Thailand that “provides a framework for trade-led growth”.

The minister’s trip comes shortly after Britain’s Home Secretary was heavily criticized by British stakeholders for calling for comments that fewer international students and their families should come to the UK.

“We welcome an ever-growing number of international students to our shores, with more than 600,000 currently studying in the UK,” said Fysh in Thailand.

Tens of thousands more are studying abroad for British degrees, he added, hinting that “the global pandemic has fueled student demand for education at their home countries”.

Along with the UK’s transnational education offerings, the “power of digital technology” will drive demand, he continued.

“British edtech providers are ahead in this area”

“British edtech providers are ahead of the curve in this area,” he said, “offering world-class expertise in areas such as artificial intelligence, mixed reality and immersive content… with the UK attracting around 40% of all European investment in edtech.”

DIT is working with UK education providers to expand their presence in Asia, he added, citing Pearson’s successful support to secure one 2018 Letter of Intent with the Thai Ministry of Education to have his BTEC qualifications recognized in the Southeast Asian country.

According to UK government statistics, only one in ten UK companies currently exports.

“I would like to invite more UK suppliers to follow Pearson’s example and use our support to enter this dynamic market… and the many other growth opportunities that are arising here in Thailand and across Asia for those who do.” Having ambition and the determination to embrace it,” Fysh concluded.

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