How thoughtless

July 8, 2010

The government's decision to cut the Chevening scholarships' budget is doubly disappointing, coming as it does in the wake of the previous administration's move to retrench the number of Commonwealth scholarships and its withdrawal of overseas research scholarships.

These decisions are perverse, mind-boggling and short-sighted in equal measure. The vast majority of the money invested in these schemes never leaves the country, since both fee and maintenance elements are spent within the UK. This spend has direct and multiplier effects for both the universities where the scholarship recipients study and the local communities in which they reside.

Countries such as Australia have long recognised the win-win logic of providing scholarships for talented and high-achieving international students. Not only does Australia benefit from the influence of a growing alumni body well disposed to it and the institutions in which they studied, but the investment also has its primary economic impact locally.

While joined-up thinking remains a distant goal for the British government, it would be nice in the interim just to see some evidence of thinking. The Chevening cuts will be music to the ears of the UK's global competitors.

David Stevens, Head, International Office, University College London.

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