But internationally Britannia still makes educational waves

November 26, 1999

British higher education is acclaimed by young professionals throughout the world and regarded as a good choice for study abroad and distance-learning courses, an international MORI survey has found, writes Tony Tysome.

A poll of hundreds of "well-informed" professional people in 13 countries this year revealed that the reputation of British institutions, courses and qualifications lags behind only the United States

in the global market.

But stereotypical "stiff upper lip" images of Britain carry through into higher education. In just about every country, British universities and colleges were seen as more disciplined and

regimented than their American counterparts, and lecturers as "commanding and aloof".

A report on the findings, Through Other Eyes: How the World Sees Britain, shows that 44 per cent of respondents regarded the overall quality of British higher education as very good, while another 44 per cent saw it as fairly good. More than half of those surveyed in Egypt, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey, thought it was very good, along with more than a quarter in every other country apart from Germany and China.

Professionals were more likely than those studying or working in academia to give British higher education a "very good" rating.

Britain was placed both far behind the US and well ahead of the rest of the field in the credibility of its qualifications with potential employers. Nearly a

quarter said they would choose a British

qualification over others, while 58 per cent opted for the US. But, only 6 per cent voted for

qualifications from their own country, 5 per

cent for Japan, and 3 per cent for Canada.

About a quarter said they would choose to study in Britain rather than elsewhere, compared with 13 per cent choosing another European country, 5 per cent voting for Canada and 4 per cent for Australia. An overwhelming 46 per cent chose the US.

On distance learning Britain did better, with nearly a third choosing UK courses compared with 40 per cent going for US programmes.

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