One-sixth of UK degree students prefer to have the best of British abroad

January 19, 2012

The days when international students flooded into the UK to study at its world-renowned universities may not be over, but the dynamics are rapidly changing.

According to statistics published last week, the number of people studying overseas for a complete British higher education qualification rose by 23 per cent last year and now equates to one-sixth of all students taking UK awards.

Such courses are typically cheaper than those delivered in the UK and allow students to stay closer to home while avoiding the UK's visa regime.

According to the figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, 503,795 students at British institutions "studied wholly overseas" in 2010-11, up sharply from 408,685 in 2009-10 and 388,135 in 2008-09.

The separate figure for total enrolments in the UK was 2.5 million in 2010-11, meaning that those studying wholly overseas equated to about one in six of all students.

Students in this category - also known as "transnational education" (TNE) - include those registered at overseas branch campuses run by British universities, people studying for UK university awards at overseas institutions, and those engaged in distance learning.

Possible drivers for the growth in 2010-11 include the new visa regime for non-European Union students seeking to enter the UK introduced by the Labour government, plus increasing demand for higher education among Asia's expanding middle classes.

Hesa advises universities not to include in the "wholly overseas" category those students studying on overseas courses validated by a UK institution - the process that led to the scandals involving the University of Wales.

However, the figures still prompted calls for UK universities to maintain quality for students studying wholly overseas.

Joanna Newman, director of the UK Higher Education International Unit, said the increase "demonstrates the benefits to UK institutions in a wide range of activities".

She added: "There are risks to engaging internationally, but universities are developing their international strategies to ensure relevant standards are maintained."

TNE "enables international students to gain a UK education, but it is also an opportunity to enhance outward student mobility by providing UK and EU students with international experience in another country as an integral part of their course", she said.

Hesa could not provide figures on how many UK-domiciled students were in the wholly overseas category.

While Hesa has not yet supplied a breakdown of UK TNE growth by country in 2010-11, Dr Newman said that the 2009-10 figures show that the biggest growth areas that year were Malaysia, Hong Kong and Nigeria.

Branch campuses accounted for a small proportion of students studying wholly overseas: 12,315 in 2010-11, up from 11,410 in 2009-10.

The bulk of the UK TNE students were in Hesa's "registered at overseas partner organisation - studying overseas for an award of the reporting [UK] institution" group. It had 291,595 students, up from 207,805 the previous year - a 40 per cent rise.

john.morgan@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

Humboldt University, Berlin

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy

sitting by statue

Institutions told they have a ‘culture of excluding postgraduates’ in wake of damning study