New study highlights rise in British students studying abroad

November 19th, 2014 Category: Colleges and Higher Education

A growing number of students are choosing to study in the US for their education instead of the UK, according to new research.

Figures published by the Institute of International Education in collaboration with the US-UK Fulbright Commission, showed that over 10,000 students from the UK were at US universities in 2013-14.

This represents a rise of eight per cent over the year. It is thought that the rise in tuition fees is partly behind this trend.

Over the past decade, there has been a 21 per cent increase in UK students pursuing US study.

In addition, some institutions in the US offer generous arts bursaries and a wider variety of subjects, which is another major attraction for UK students flocking abroad.

According to the Institute of International Education's analysis of overseas students in the US, UK students were worth $338 million (£216 million) to the US economy.

In recent years, American institutions have launched a number of campaigns as part of a bid to attract more international students.

Some US universities also recruit students from Britain specifically, while others offer generous scholarships to those who would otherwise be unable to afford the expense of studying abroad.

In 2012, the Sutton Trust Us Programme was created as part of a bid to make it easier for state school students to enter US universities.

Commenting on the findings, Penny Egan, executive director of the Fulbright Commission, said, in an interview published by the Telegraph: "The introduction of £9,000 fees has certainly had an impact. There are more generous bursaries and needs-blind admissions in the states. Although the competition is fierce, if you are academically able and unable to pay you are likely to get a reasonably good financial offer."

The figures showed that universities such as Harvard, Columbia, New York, Yale and the University of California, Berkeley, were the most sought-after locations for students.

Some 10,191 British students pursued study in the US during the 2013/14 academic year. It was a rise from the 9,500 recorded 12 months earlier.

According to the figures, this represented the largest year-on-year increase in more than ten years.

Ms Egan added: "As the globe shrinks it is wonderful to see young British students taking advantage of the opportunities to study abroad. Outward mobility is high on the agenda and where better to head to than some of the best universities in the world? Our bi-national remit means that we also celebrate welcoming more Americans to the UK than to any other country in the world – so there is reason for applause all round.”

These findings have a number of implications for British universities. While it is undoubtedly positive, that an increasing number of students are gaining the opportunity to study abroad, particularly those from poorer backgrounds, it also affects the overall financial profitability of British institutions.

Of course there is no sign yet that the rise in students studying overseas is posing a major problem for UK institutions.

However, in light of these new figures, it certainly seems worthwhile for domestic universities to consider ways in which they can continue to attract and retain the best and the brightest candidates in the UK.

The report appeared to suggest that offering a wider choice in terms of degrees and subject matter is certainly one of the major considerations that students have when studying abroad.

However, increased investment into the availability and presentation of university facilities, offering a comprehensive support package to students, and improving existing resources may also go a long way towards ensuring that British universities stay competitive in the race to attract more students.