UK Strategy for Outward Mobility 2017 - 2020

UK Strategy for Outward Mobility 2017 - 2020

25 Apr 2017

Outward mobility is essential if UK higher education is to develop graduates who are equipped to compete on the global labour market, and can promote UK business and diplomatic interests worldwide. It also enhances the international profile of UK higher education, as students on overseas placements are excellent ambassadors for the UK.


The need for a UK Strategy was the principal recommendation of the 2012 Riordan Review, led by Professor Colin Riordan, Chair of the UK Higher Education International Unit (now Universities UK International), and informed by a sector-wide consultation on the barriers to UK outward mobility. As a result, the Minister for Universities and Science at the time, the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, asked Professor Riordan and Universities UK International to lead the development of a sector-led Strategy for outward mobility.


The original Strategy was developed collaboratively with universities, and launched in 2013. Since then, significant progress has been made. Recognising that, and to take account of recent policy developments affecting UK higher education and outward student mobility, we reviewed the Strategy in 2016-17. We launched an updated UK Strategy for Outward Student Mobility at Universities UK International’s third annual Go International conference on 25 April 2017. Phase two of the Strategy will last from 2017-2020.


The UK Strategy for Outward Student Mobility aims to double the percentage of UK-domiciled, full-time, first degree students who undertake international placements as part of their higher education programmes to just over 13% by 2020. This will create a new generation of global graduates, and a higher education culture in which international opportunities are an aspiration for all students.

Strategic objectives

In order to achieve its strategic vision of increasing the proportion of UK domiciled students accessing international opportunities, and contribute to its new headline target, the UK Strategy for Outward Mobility has the following six objectives:

  1. Promote the benefits of study and work abroad
  2. Monitor trends in student mobility
  3. Build capacity in UK higher education to facilitate outward mobility
  4. Share best practice in UK higher education
  5. Provide a collective voice for UK higher education 
  6. Influence government for UK higher education