German Students: UK provides best lesson

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By German standards, Arnd Hostert, 27, is precocious. He did his first degree long ago and is about to submit his PhD thesis. Not surprising, when one considers where he studied: London. His parents sent him here aged 15 to learn English and he stayed.

He remained for a year to please his parents and enrolled for sixth form. After that there was really no choice. "I wanted to do biochemistry. In Germany, very few universities offered the course ... In Britain, every bog- standard university does it."

After three years at Imperial College he had his first degree, two years ahead of the brainiest of his German contemporaries. An increasing number of Germans are fleeing to escape the crowds, irrelevant courses and incoherent professors at home: an estimated 10,000 study at British universities and 8,000 in the US and the number of foreigners attracted by German universities is falling.

"Anyone who can afford it now sends their children to universities abroad," said Guido Westerwelle, secretary of the Free Democratic Party. "The rest are stuck with ... lower quality and far longer terms studying." The Hosterts are satisfied with the service their money bought in London: Arnd was recently joined by his brother, who is studying medicine at Guy's.