High tuition fees at UK universities affecting potential intakes

by Ray Clancy on September 27, 2013

High tuition fees for universities are prompting more sixth form students at independent schools in the UK to pursue a degree abroad, research suggests.

The maximum fees payable by UK and European Union students at universities in England and Wales tripled last year to a maximum of £9,000. More than half of universities now charge the maximum fees though at some universities it is £6,000. Scottish undergraduates pay the least with fees of £1,820 a year.

UK Students

Maximum fees payable by UK and European Union students at universities in England and Wales tripled last year

The United States was regarded as the number one foreign study destination, followed by the Netherlands. Others included Canada, Australia, Ireland, Italy and the Czech Republic, according to a survey commissioned by Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

The survey asked heads of schools belonging to the Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference (HMC), an association of head teachers from 243 independent schools in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, if more pupils were applying for degrees abroad.

It found that nine out of 10 heads who responded said that over the last two years their sixth form students have become more interested in applying to universities overseas.

The proportion has grown significantly since a survey two years ago when just under 60% of heads said they had noticed a rise in the number of students considering universities abroad.

‘Over the past two years the number of UK students studying at Maastricht has grown by 300% from 110 in 2010/2011 to 299 in 2012/2013. The feedback we have from these students suggests that a key attraction is the fact that a foreign degree can open up new career opportunities and employers really value graduates with experience of studying and working abroad,’ said Professor Rein de Wilde, dean of the faculty of arts and social sciences at Maastricht University.

Dramatically increased university tuition fees at home was cited as the main reason for the surge in interest, while greater availability of information on study abroad options and a greater awareness of how a foreign degree can improve career prospects were also cited as important factors.

The survey also found that eight out of 10 heads were more actively encouraging sixth formers to include foreign universities among their higher education options. However, over three quarters of heads still felt more should be done to provide sixth formers with better information about study abroad options.

Foreign students coming to study in the UK face paying far more for their education. A survey by The Complete University Guide found that students from outside the European Union face the highest fees with some paying up to four times more than a British student.

It also found huge discrepancies in fees charged depending on the university. For example, studying for an MBA at Oxford could accumulate fees of £41,000 but the same course at Manchester would be £38,000 and at Leeds Trinity a masters in business management would be just £4,900.

Fees charged to international students now start at £7,450 for lecture based courses and rise to £35,000 for undergraduate medical degrees. For example, international medical students at King’s College London will be looking at fees of £35,000 and at UCL £33,750.

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