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courtesy of Javi Duque

Is the UK in danger of losing international student revenue?

by Kamilah Fabien

It’s a fact that universities in the UK rely heavily on tuition paid by international students, so what would happen if less and less international students came to the UK every year?

When I left Trinidad in 2003 to get a Bachelors degree in Mass Communication in the US it was because I got a scholarship and tertiary education was expensive in my country.

Since then however, the Trinidad and Tobago government has started subsidizing undergraduate education. I suspect that less Trinidadian students will now leave the islands to pursue first degrees unless they are granted scholarships abroad.

Fellow Skinflint staffer Lei Yang of China has a similar observation about Chinese students.

She believes that they don’t travel to the UK to study mainly for education purposes, but more because they want to experience a different culture.

“It’s much easier for a Chinese person to get a visa to study than to get a visa to travel. So many Chinese young people take the study visa as a way to see the world.”

Europe

Since the Bologna process was integrated in 2007 many feared that the UK’s unique advantage in education would disappear.

The Bologna process was an attempt to standardize tertiary education so that there would not be disparities in educational degrees throughout Europe.

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) prepared a report to explore how the UK would fare.

"There are undoubtedly some that are trying to undermine the credibility of our one-year courses. It is important that they should not succeed, since these have become a mainstay of our international student recruitment.

To lose this market will be hugely damaging to the financial viability of our universities,” said the report.

So if more and more countries offer free tertiary education to their citizens why would people still be interested in going to the UK?

Reasons to continue going to the UK

Elena Campus an Italian postgraduate student says that even though undergraduate education is subsidized by the Italian government, that doing her masters in the UK is cheaper than in Italy.

"I would have paid a lot more money to study in Italy than I pay now. In Italy I would have paid a lot more to do the same course I'm doing now."

Cassie Ann James who did an MA in communication at the University of the West Indies was not absolutely satisfied with the course.

“It was too theoretical. I mean, the information was good and I had a lot research to do, but I just missed the practical experiences that my friends from other schools in other countries talk about.”

UK keeps hold on international market

So it seems that the UK’s international student revenue is safe for now.

Despite the recession the University of Westminster’s International Journalism course has seen an increase in the number of applicants it received last year.

The recession might indicate to some that further education is even more valuable now to make themselves competitive on the job market.

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