USC aims to reap what fees rise has sown

October 18, 2012

A leading US university has seen a "stupendous" increase in interest from UK students since the hike in tuition fees introduced by the coalition government.

Katharine Harrington, vice-president of admissions and planning at the University of Southern California, said the Los Angeles-based institution was considering adjusting its marketing activities to attract more UK students on the back of rising British interest.

Speaking to Times Higher Education at the university's first Global Conversation event in London, Dr Harrington said: "I was meeting with some of our alumni ... and a handful of them were representing USC at a college fair. Last year, these same three alumni were at the same conference and received 30 enquiry cards from UK students (interested) in learning more about USC. They handed me 208 of those cards this morning.

"So just anecdotally, the change in the level of interest in USC from last year to this is quite stupendous."

Dr Harrington said she believed that the increased cost to English students of attending university at home had piqued student interest.

"We know that, or suspect that, there is a real relationship between the increase in fees (and the rise of interest in USC). Whenever we see costs increasing in either a geographic ... or a particular subject market, there is a tendency ... to look at other options."

In terms of recruiting UK students, Dr Harrington said that the university - which charges tuition fees of $43,722 (£,217) per year but does offer scholarships to international students - was considering a more targeted approach.

"We may well be slightly adjusting our marketing activities (to focus on the UK), although I must say that USC is, at the undergraduate level, perhaps the most aggressive recruiter of ... any American college or university."

Last year, 80 UK students enrolled at the institution, down from 91 and 97 in the two years previous. In the next year, admissions staff from USC will visit more than 2,200 high schools in 44 US states and nine countries, including the UK.

chris.parr@tsleducation.com.

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