Go to a UK university?
Go to a UK university? I'd rather study abroad
With the UK's tuition fees set to rise and international education standards continuously improving, is there really any point in expat children returning to their home country to study for a degree?
n the past, looking at foreign higher education was something only other countries did, like the new powers of China and India, or the Asian tigers. British expat parents who had to school their children overseas only did so on the understanding that this was in preparation for when they returned to study at a British university. But not anymore. Now, a far greater proportion of British students are studying for a degree abroad: 22,000 in 2010 or 1.7 per cent of the total (compared with just 1.4 per cent of Chinese and one per cent of Indian students).
More expat families, it seems, are keeping their options open. One of the factors in this is the perception that the British university system is in a state of flux. Some commentators have gone as far as suggesting a crisis as a result of the "marketisation" of higher education, where the tripling of tuition fees, reduction in courses and suggestions of grade inflation all add up to a situation where paying customers – and not quality – is king. Whether there is any truth in this picture or not, global rankings reflect the rise of overseas institutions and the increasing levels of investment in foreign university offerings at a time when UK budgets are being cut. Germany, for example, has an €18 billion (£16 billion) investment programme in place for science and technology institutions.
Non-British universities can offer some real advantages in terms of cost, and also in providing the kind of international experience, independent living and opportunities to hone language skills which can make a student’s CV stand out from the pack. Maastricht University in the Netherlands has successfully positioned itself as a real alternative for UK students. Most undergraduate and masters degrees are taught in English and fees are around €1,500 (£1,300) a year. Universities in Milan and Valencia have also begun to be popular options. The universities in Ireland have a "Free Fees Initiative" but students have been required to pay a registration fee of €1,500. In general, EU universities offer a good deal, with many charging the same fee levels to UK students as home students (which can be as low as £200 per year).
More than 9,000 Brits also go to the US each year. It's a more expensive option, with the Ivy League charging up to £25,000 annually, but the system includes many potential scholarships and bursaries. The most popular US universities in general with British students are the University of Southern California, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Brigham Young University and New York University.
Another major development to consider is the trend for British universities to open campuses overseas. This has primarily been an effort to reach vast new audiences of students in countries like India and China, but these campuses also provide opportunities for expats to combine a British-style education with an international location. The University of Nottingham for example has a campus in Malaysia; Middlesex University is in Dubai and Mauritius; and Lancaster University has a presence in China and Nigeria.
9:34AM BST 24 Aug 2011
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The sun is out, bank holidays are in, we all want to go and explore, although this can sometimes be ruined by the dreaded mistral (p14). But let’s not spoil things. How about a visit to St Jean du Fos (p20) or if you’re feeling more urban, a nice shopping day in Avignon with a healthy tea break (p23) or a visit to an art gallery in Nîmes? (p17) If you’re feeling extra energetic like me, how about entering the Pont du Gard race on 30 June to raise money for a fantastic local charity? Also in this issue, the remarkable story of a simulated space mission by Claire (p18) and a very funny article by Bernice on her pathological inability (or so she says) to learn languages (p22).