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'Surprising' amount of British students studying overseas

21st February 2011

Britain sends a higher percentage of students to foreign universities than many other countries which could be considered its peers, it has been claimed.

 

Around 22,000 British students are currently studying overseas 

Source:  Leah Hyslop 9:26AM GMT 21 Feb 2011 Telegraph

At the Westminster Education Forum on higher education in London last week, Vincenzo Raimo, director of Nottingham University'sinternational office, said that research suggested there were currently around 22,000 British students on degree courses abroad; approximately 1.7 per cent of Britain's entire student population.

By comparison, he said, in China and India - well-known for having a large number of their students educated abroad - these figures were only 1.4 per cent and one per cent respectively.

British students abroad are spread fairly evenly around the world, but he said there were particularly high numbers in the US (around 8,500), France (around 2,600) and in Germany (around 2,200).

“In discussing international education, we often focus too highly on students coming into the UK, and ignore the fact that there’s a lot of outward mobility,” Mr Raimo told Telegraph Expat. “Of course, in terms of sheer numbers there are far more Indian or Chinese students studying abroad. But in terms of percentages, we have a surprising number of students looking to experience higher education in a different country."

The figures discussed by Mr Raimo applied only to students enrolled in full degree courses abroad, not students spending a term or year abroad as part of their degree.

Like many education specialists, Mr Raimo believes that the controversial lifting of the cap on tuition fees in Britain from £3,225 to £9,000 is likely to encourage more students to study abroad. “I think the number would have risen anyway as students became more aware of the advantages of studying in a different country, but without a doubt, financial considerations will increasingly influence students' decisions," he said.

Lee Miller, general manager of Study Overseas UK, which helps British students find placements in Australian, American and Canadian universities, said that he had already seen a significant rise in the number of enquiries about studying abroad since the announcement of the fees increase in December.

He added however that many students were looking at universities which were not necessarily cheaper, but which offered what students saw as an improved lifestyle and better quality education than that available in Britain for a similar cost.

“Students seem to think that if you're going to spend £9,000 a year to study in an average British city, you might as well spend the same amount and go somewhere like Perth, where there's a great beachside lifestye and really good facilities, especially for sport, " he said. "Students also say they are attracted to the different content of foreign degrees, where they get more of a chance to take modules in a range of subjects."

Mr Raimo added in the current economic climate, studying abroad was also likely to improve students' chances in the job market. “Britain's mass education system makes it difficult for students with degrees to differentiate themselves in a marketplace. If they've studied abroad, however, they look much more independent, and have learnt important new skills, like languages."

There is however one significant disadvantage of studying overseas: whatever it might cost in the long run, British students abroad are unlikely to get a loan from the Student Loans Company.It offers loans only to students based in Britain, or those doing up to a year's placement in a university abroad.

None the less, many schools have already started to encourage their pupils to look beyond the traditional destinations for British students. Last month, one of Britain's best-performing state schools, Hockerill Anglo-European Collegein Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, said it had appointed a student counsellor tasked solely with helping students apply for better-value universities overseas.