Foreign students put off by cost of living in the UK

November 2, 2006

The UK is thought to be the most expensive study destination in the world by international students living in countries identified as key emerging target markets for British institutions, a survey has found, writes Tony Tysome.

The verdict of more than 4,600 students from 120 countries, surveyed by consultants i-graduate, was that Britain was an even more expensive place to study than the US.

This is bad news in the light of another finding in the survey - that course and living costs are the biggest concerns for students considering studying overseas.

It could help explain why the UK is rated behind both the US and Australia, and in some cases below Canada too, by students living in emerging market countries, such as Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

This is despite British higher education qualifications being more highly regarded than those from anywhere else in the world apart from the US.

The perception of Britain as highly expensive is likely to prove a handicap for UK universities unless they can begin to make more intelligent use of bursaries and scholar-ships, according to William Archer, the director of i-graduate .

He said: "These findings suggest we cannot trade on academic reputation alone. We need to be seen to be offering more if we are going to stay ahead of our competitors. It could mean, for instance, some intelligent use of bursaries.

"Quite often, at the moment, these are driven not by the strategic goals of institutions but rather by departments."

Britain was also considered to be a less safe place to live and study than most competitor countries.

Mr Archer said there was work to be done, in this case on managing perceptions. He said: "We know that most overseas students do feel safe in the UK. But before they come here there is a perception that we are less safe than our competitors."

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