UK students head overseas in search of cheaper fees and academic excellence

Laura Tunbridge left school in Kent with four As and one B at A-level, but was rejected from Oxford University and all but one of her other choices. Rather than settle for second best, she took a gap year and set her sights on the American Ivy League.

"Studying in the US was something I'd always wanted to do but never believed it was a possibility," says the 20-year-old. "When I received my acceptance and financial aid offer from Yale, I was so shocked that I had a panic attack! There was no way I was going to pass up the opportunity to study at Yale."

This summer, Yale is funding a trip to Ecuador to improve her Spanish. Laura is one of a growing number of British undergraduates looking beyond Britain's red brick and grey skies and seeking a top-flight education overseas. With UCAS application numbers continuing to soar, intakes being capped, higher education budgets cut and vice-chancellors pushing to raise the ceiling of £3,240 on tuition fees, a foreign education is attractive.

Now in the first year of a four-year liberal arts degree, Laura says it is actually cheaper for her to study at Yale than at home. Any student bright enough to gain admission to Yale is entitled to as much financial aid from the university as they can demonstrate they need. The full cost of attendance for Laura (including tuition, room, board and travel) is $56,000 (£37,500) a year, but she gets 94 per cent financial aid, leaving around $3,360 (£2,250) a year to fund herself. "The only downside is that my parents have to take on this expense," she says.

In 2008-09, a record 8,701 students from Britain studied in America, a 4 per cent rise on the previous year, and a 3 per cent increase in those taking undergraduate degrees, according to the Fulbright Commission which awards and advises on American scholarships for British students. "In addition to improvements to the US visa application process we suspect there has been an 'Obama effect' on international student interest in the US and a growing recognition of the value of a more international education," says Lauren Welch, the Commission's head of advising.

Europe is welcoming British students in growing numbers. Last year a record 10,843 British students – a 6 per cent rise – took advantage of the Erasmus programme which enables EU students to spend a year of their degree studying abroad. A few intrepid souls are breaking free of their island mentality and crossing the Channel for full three-year degrees, making the most of EU rules which allow them to pay the same fees as domestic students. Maastricht University in the Netherlands, which teaches in English, had 43 British students last year. There are 57 applying for September. Maastricht is so taken with its new arrivals that it wants to be part of UCAS. Fees are around €1,620 (£1,468) a year, and the top 3 per cent have their fees waived.

In Italy, Milan's Bocconi university teaches 22 programmes in English. Its undergraduate courses in international economics, management and finance have 15 British students enrolled. Fees range from €4,400 (£3,987) to €9,950 (£9,016) a year, though the school does offer scholarships.

Antipodean universities, meanwhile, are scenting blood in the waters of British higher education. "A large number of British students are applying to universities in Australia and New Zealand because of their strength in international rankings," says Sarah Nash, director of Study Options, a free advisory service. "Six Australian universities rank in the QS world top 50. That compares very favourably to the UK, which has eight institutions ranked at that level. At the moment, studying in Australia or New Zealand is more expensive, but that may change."

Thirteen Australian schools were recruiting at the QS Top Universities Fair at Earls Court in London last weekend, along with more than 100 other institutions from Britain and around the world. "Rising UK tuition fees and reductions in places will encourage many of the brightest UK school leavers to look at international study options," says Nunzio Quacquarelli, managing director of QS, the fair's organiser. "This trend is exacerbated by British nationals attracted by scholarships, academic excellence or lifestyle benefits overseas."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

SEN Teacher, Permanent Role in Ashford

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad urgently seeks a qualif...

Drama Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...

**Science Teacher Urgently Required for September**

£120 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: **Science Teacher Urgently ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice