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Higher education institutions in Northern Ireland are autonomous and responsible for increasing their international activity. Within that overall context, my Department's higher education strategy, Graduating to Success, committed to ensuring that the institutions reviewed their international strategies and set challenging targets to enhance their international standing. Each institution now has an international strategy in place to increase collaboration and the inward and outward mobility of students and staff. My Department, together with counterparts in other devolved Administrations, provides funding to Universities UK International, which supports universities in their international efforts.
As for attracting international students, universities can participate in international visits coordinated by Universities UK International and access relevant networks and research. Education, including higher education, has significant export potential. Invest NI now has a manager working with the education sector as a whole to increase international activity. Invest NI is working with local universities to explore ways in which it can assist them to increase the number of international students enrolled. Universities have participated in trade missions, utilising the in-market teams and consultants to research and set up meeting programmes with potential partner universities or student recruitment agents. In addition to trade missions, universities have access to Invest NI support, and funding is available to assist with flights and accommodation to visit potential new markets. In their international outreach efforts, the universities can also avail themselves of the support that is offered by the Northern Ireland bureaux in Washington and Beijing.