Sharp rise in students considering higher education overseas

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Increasing numbers of higher education students are considering studying overseas, with almost four in 10 saying they might shun UK universities.

Research involving 2,630 respondents found that 37 per cent are considering going abroad to attend university. In the same study a year ago this figure was just 20 per cent.

And while the British Council research found that an interest in travelling and experiencing other cultures were among the reasons cited for going abroad, the hike to as much as £9,000 a year for UK tuition fees was also a common reason. The cost of higher education abroad is generally much lower.

Around a fifth of those thinking about going abroad cited cultural reasons, while 57 per cent said the rise in tuition fees was behind the idea – 30 per cent higher than last year’s study.

Official statistics are not collected on how many UK students leave the country to study, but UNESCO data from 2011 shows that 28,133 left the UK for their higher education – 0.7 per cent of the total cohort.

In terms of destinations, the British Council study found that the USA was the most popular, with a third of respondents saying they would like to cross the pond to study. Other popular choices included Australia (nine per cent), France and Germany (both five per cent).

Of the respondents, 67 per cent were aged 18 to 24, with 35 per cent aiming for undergraduate study, 17 per cent for a PhD, and 15 per cent post-graduate study.

Elsewhere, many of the students felt there was not enough information available about studying abroad. Furthermore, only a quarter were aware of UK government scholarship programmes available to help students study abroad

Dr Jo Beall, the British Council’s director of education and society, said: “It is essential for the UK’s global competitiveness that our next generation gains more international skills and understanding, so it’s very encouraging to see that more UK students are considering studying abroad.

“The internationalisation of the UK’s education sector cannot be a one-way process. More of our young people need to be prepared to travel if we’re to catch up with countries like France and Germany. 

“The British Council offers tens of thousands of opportunities to work or study abroad every year, and we encourage the higher education sector to work with government and industry to help more people get a passport in to the global economy.”


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