Skip to main content

Prime Minister's Initiative (PMI)

Role of the Joint International Unit

The first phase of the PMI was launched by Tony Blair at the London School of Economics in 1999. The initiative was aimed at increasing the number of international students studying in the UK and to encourage collaboration between universities, colleges, the Government and other bodes to promote UK education abroad. It set targets to increase the number of non-EU international students studying in the UK by 75,000 by the year 2005, 50,000 in Higher Education (HE) and 25,000 in Further Education (FE). The targets were exceeded ahead of schedule, with an extra 93,000 in HE and 23,300 in FE.


The second phase of the PMI was launched on 18th April 2006 with the overall aim to:

  • Secure the UK's position as a leader in international education and sustain the managed growth of UK international education delivered both in the UK and overseas.

Increasing the number of international students who choose to study in the UK continues to be a priority. However, PMI Phase 2 also addresses a wider international agenda. The strategy sets out four interconnected strands designed to build on the success of PMI 1:

  • UK positioning: marketing and communication strategies to position the UK as a leader in international education and to increase the number of international students undertaking UK education.
  • Diversification of markets in order to reduce dependence on a small number of countries that currently send high numbers of students to the UK.
  • Ensuring the quality of the student experience.
  • Developing strategic partnerships, including supporting more UK universities and colleges to engage in collaborative partnerships with their counterparts overseas.

Targets and Indicators

By 2011, to achieve:

  • An additional 70,000 international students in UK higher education; and 30,000 in further education
  • Double the number of countries sending more than 10,000 students p.a. to the UK
  • Demonstrable improvements to student satisfaction ratings in the UK:-
    1. see steady increases in satisfaction ratings given by international students in attitudinal surveys
    2. see a demonstrable change in perceptions of students considering the UK as a study destination
  • Achieve significant growth in the number of partnerships between the UK and other countries


The further and higher education sectors, and the English language sector, have come together with the Government and the British Council to provide a total of nearly 7 million a year to fund activity in support of the PMI2's aims and objectives, and in pursuit of achieving its challenging targets.


PMI2 is supporting the development of collaborative HE and FE partnerships between institutions in the UK and in a number of strategic countries and regions. In 07/08, 143 HE partnerships (including 26 outward student mobility pilots) and 24 FE partnerships were approved.

An additional 29 FE partnerships have been approved in 08/09. These are just getting off the ground. A call for further HE partnerships is underway.

This page is currently being updated. Please check back for our new and improved page which will include additional information.