International students save up to one-fifth after Brexit

But UK students at universities abroad will lose out from the falling pound

September 15, 2016
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For UK universities lamenting the result of the European Union referendum in June, there may be at least one crumb of comfort. It is likely to be easier to retain international students from outside the EU, whose tuition fees this autumn will be up to a fifth cheaper than they were last year.

That’s the main finding from research conducted by the financial services company Western Union Business Solutions, which showed that students from Malaysia – a key and growing market for the UK – will benefit the most from the falling pound, paying 22 per cent, or almost £2,700, less on tuition compared with September 2015.

Fees for Singaporean and American students will be 21 per cent and 17 per cent cheaper respectively, according to the study, which was based on an analysis of tuition fee payments data for the UK’s main overseas markets.

It assumed an average annual tuition fee of £10,000, although a survey compiled by the Complete University Guide and published last month by Times Higher Education found that average annual tuition fees for undergraduate overseas students in 2016-17 are £13,394 for classroom-based degrees, £15,034 for laboratory-based degrees and £24,169 for clinical subjects.

Overseas students enrolling in higher education for the first time this year will also benefit, with international tuition fees for the UK’s key markets dropping at least 10 per cent since 23 June, the day of the EU referendum. New Indian students will see the biggest fall in tuition, saving 14 per cent, or £1,570, in the two months since the vote, followed by students from Malaysia (13.7 per cent) and the US and Saudi Arabia (13.4 per cent each).

Tony Crivelli, UK and European managing director at Western Union Business Solutions, said the findings mean that international students can get a “world-class degree from a UK university for a much lower price”.

“It is also good news for universities here as the UK has been one of the most expensive places to study in the world, but now it is significantly cheaper than it has been for years. Students who are attracted to the UK by the cheaper cost this year will stay for three years on average to complete their degrees, and so the benefit will be felt for years to come,” he said.

However, he said that there was “no guarantee that the exchange rates will remain this favourable for long”.

But while international students in the UK will benefit from the decline in the pound, UK students studying abroad will lose out. A separate study from foreign exchange provider Caxton FX found that Australian universities are now 22 per cent more expensive for Britons following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, while UK students in Canada and the US will be paying about 16 per cent and 14 per cent more, respectively, for their annual fees. The analysis was based on fees displayed on individual universities’ websites.

Cost of tuition at UK universities for international students in September 2015 and August 2016, based on £10,000 annual fees 

Rank Country Currency Cost of tuition on 17 September 2015 Cost of tuition on 15 August 2016 Difference in price % difference 
1 Malaysia M$ 66,245 51,580 14,665 22.1
2 Singapore S$ 21,784 17,290 4,494 20.6
3 US $ 15,587 12,879 2,708 17.4
4 Saudi Arabia SR 58,235 48,290 9,945 17.1
5 India Rs 1,029,700 860,870 168,830 16.4
6 Euro area 13,628 11,513 2,115 15.5
7 China Rmb 99,225 85,431 13,794 13.9

Source: Western Union Business Solutions

Cost of tuition at UK universities for international students on 23 June 2016 and 15 August 2016, based on £10,000 annual fees

Rank Country Currency Cost of tuition on 23 June 2016 Cost of tuition on 15 August 2016 Difference in price % difference 
1 India Rs 1,000,830 860,870 139,960 14.0
2 Malaysia M$ 59,735 51,580 8,155 13.7
3 US $ 14,878 12,879 1,999 13.4
3 Saudi Arabia SR 55,784 48,290 7,494 13.4
5 Singapore S$ 19,889 17,290 2,599 13.1
6 China Rmb 97,228 85,431 11,797 12.1
7 Euro area 13,067 11,513 1,554 11.9

Source: Western Union Business Solutions

Rise in cost of tuition for UK students in selected countries post-Brexit

Country Currency % rise in cost of tuition for UK students paying in pounds
Australia A$ 22
Canada C$ 16
Denmark Dkr 15
US $ 14
France  14
Switzerland Swfr 14
Spain 14

Source: Caxton FX

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