Asian losses fear

June 5, 1998

ECONOMIC crisis in Southeast Asia could cost universities and colleges more than Pounds 50 million in two years, writes Harriet Swain.

Latest estimates from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, suggest the sector could lose Pounds 9 million this year and up to Pounds 45 million in 1998-99 as a result of Southeast Asian students dropping out of courses or failing to apply because of financial hardship back home.

British universities have about 22,000 students from the worst hit Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Korea, at any one time, each paying between Pounds 5,500 and Pounds 8,500 in fees.

Latest figures from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service show applications from Malaysia, by far the largest supplier of students, are down 36 per cent.

Worst hit are many new universities. But figures from the Higher Education Statistical Agency suggest a variety of institutions are set to be affected. Highest numbers of students from the countries struggling most are at the universities of Strathclyde, Portsmouth, Middlesex, Leeds, Nottingham, Sheffield and Imperial College.

John Nance, who is managing a Pounds 6.6 million scholarship fund for Asian students on behalf of the foreign office and other donors, said every eligible institution had applied to the fund.

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