Scotland launches new campaign to attract more international students

The Scottish government has announced its first comprehensive International Education Strategy,marking a significant step towards bolstering Scotland’s global reputation and attracting more international students to its universities and colleges.


Launched on 7 February at Edinburgh Napier University, the strategy sets out to create an environment conducive to the growth of higher education institutions. It focuses on diversifying the international student population, maximising global impact, strengthening research collaborations, providing international students with a transformative educational experience.


Scotland’s distinction as a hub of top universities underscores the strategy’s goal to create conditions for sustained growth in the higher education sector, as highlighted by Graeme Dey, the Higher and Further Education Minister. The comprehensive plan outlines three key ambitions to guide its implementation: 

Diversification of international student population

The strategy aims to diversify Scotland’s international student population through collaboration with institutions and Brand Scotland. Central to this effort is fostering a welcoming atmosphere to prospective students and staff from around the world. This plan involves introducing a Scottish Education Exchange Test and Learn Project and developing a Scottish Education Exchange Programme. These initiatives actively promote available international scholarship programs and open new international opportunities for Scottish Higher Education. In addition, the strategy intends to launch a Talent Attraction and Migration Service (TAMS) to encourage postgraduate students to continue choosing Scotland as their long-term destination.   

Scotland has been one of the popular international student destinations with numbers increasing since 2013.  According to HESA statistics, Scotland accounted for 45,115 students or 8.4% of the UK’s total Transnational Education (TNE) enrolments in 2021–2022. This showcases the country’s potential to attract students from around the world. Moreover, institutions in Scotland host a significant number of international students—around 25% of their overall student body. The strategy also revealed that in the 2022–2023 academic year, over 83,000 students from 180 countries were studying in Scottish institutions, nearly doubling from the previous academic year.  

Maximising global impact

The strategy seeks to amplify Scotland’s global impact across social, educational and economical spheres by leveraging international offices and ministerial visits to promote TNE. The Scottish Connections Framework will actively engage with alumni communities worldwide to strengthen ties with Scotland. This is also a series of commitments and ambitions to strengthen and expand their relationships with and between international communities. That said, concerns have been raised to ensure that higher education institutions don’t rely too much on funding from international students, underscoring the importance of maintaining a balanced approach to financial sustainability in the sector. 

Strengthening research collaborations 

The strategy promises to maintain and fortify domestic and international research collaborations, capitalising on opportunities like the Horizon Europe program. This involves identifying specific areas to enhance Scotland’s access to funding and support for research projects and initiatives.  


Scotland’s International Education Strategy has been welcomed by key stakeholders, including universities and the British Council, as a fundamental step towards the country’s global reputation in education and research. By advancing international collaborations and promoting Scotland as a top study destination, the government aims to position Scottish universities and colleges as hubs of innovation and excellence on the global stage. Moreover, the strategy builds Scotland’s recognition as a “cultural and creative hub,” particularly in film, television, gaming, and research and innovation sectors, further solidifying its position as a leader in the global education landscape. 

Overall, the International Education Strategy emphasises Scotland’s commitment to honing an inclusive, diverse and globally-connected higher education sector that contributes to the country’s social, economic and cultural growth. With deliberate planning and collaborative efforts, the strategy aims to ensure Scotland remains at the forefront of international education and research in the years to come. 

To learn more news, updates and exciting study opportunities available for international students in Scotland, please visit our blog or contact our Business Development Managers for more information.   

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