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Government appoints University of Bristol Vice-Chancellor to new ‘Education Champion’ role

Sir Eric Thomas

Sir Eric Thomas

Press release issued: 29 July 2013

Sir Eric Thomas, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bristol, has today been named as the UK’s Education Champion – a new role which will see him promote Britain’s education sector overseas.

His appointment coincides with the launch of the International Education Strategy, which aims to strengthen education partnerships with other countries, particularly emerging economies.

The education exports industry – education goods and services provided in other countries by British companies and institutions - is currently worth £17.5 billion to the UK economy. The Government hopes to secure an extra £3 billion worth of contracts, while attracting an additional 90,000 overseas students, by 2018.

Sir Eric will help to drive forward this new strategy and promote UK education in key target markets, working alongside Government ministers.

He said: “Education is arguably one of the UK's key exports and a highly respected brand internationally, so I am honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to its continued growth and increased profile."

As the UK’s Education Champion, Sir Eric will work across the education sector to help shape the UK’s offer in a range of areas, from infrastructure and equipment to teaching and assessment and education technology.

He will also co-chair the International Education Council alongside the Minister for Universities, David Willetts.

The International Education Strategy, developed in partnership with the education sector, will ensure British schools, universities, colleges and education businesses continue to stay ahead in the global education market, which is worth £3 trillion annually.

The strategy will also expand the Chevening Scholarship programme, which sees future global leaders study in the UK, and encourage more UK students to spend time overseas.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Overseas students make a huge contribution to Britain. They boost our economy, and enhance our cultural life, which is why there is no cap on the number of legitimate students who can study here.

“Thanks to our world-class universities, our network of UK alumni who are now in positions of influence around the world is impressive, opening doors that would not otherwise be possible. Today’s strategy will help build on this success ensuring we continue to attract international students and promote the UK’s expertise in education.”

For further information on the International Education Strategy, please see the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills’ policy paper - 'International education strategy: global growth and prosperity'.

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