The government has awarded a contract worth almost £100,000 to research how the UK can expand its healthcare education and training offer to overseas students.

The Department of International Trade awarded the contract, worth £93,000, to economics consultancy Economic Insight with the aim of attracting more highly skilled overseas health trainees and professionals to the UK to “help solve some of the workforce challenges in the NHS”.

A DIT spokesman said: “The aim of this project is to compare the UK’s healthcare education and training offer with the rest of the world, providing economic analysis as to whether there is an opportunity to expand the UK’s offer in the field.”

The research will not be aimed at recruiting highly qualified clinicians, but will instead be looking at increasing the number of undergraduate and post-graduate students who want to study and work here.

The department confirmed that Health Education England is on the project steering group and NHS England and the Department of Health and Social Care are also aware of it.

NHS Employers: ‘Huge concern’ over May’s immigration stance

NHS Employers has urged the government to get its new immigration policy right, “if we are to keep health and social care services open”.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said remarks in the prime minister’s speech given to the Confederation of British Industry this week were of “huge concern”.

Theresa May said migration would become skills based, rather than EU nationals being given priority.

“We know we need to increase the number of UK trained health professionals, especially nurses,” Mr Mortimer said. “The recommendations on salary thresholds and having no need for a so called ‘lower skilled’, lower wage route into the UK would cut off the supply of nurses from overseas.”

“We look forward to engaging with the government over the coming months to ensure that the final proposals meet the requirements of the health and social care sector and the people we care for,” he added.