UK students head abroad as fees rise to £9,000

The first concrete signs of a student flight to Europe as the massive UK hike in tuition fees approaches is emerging.

The number of applications to medical and dental schools on the Continent from UK youngsters is soaring.

Figures show a 33 per cent rise in applications to the Cardenal Herrera University in Valencia, Spain, this year. Already there are 22 applications for 10 places next year – the first year of the £9,000 a year fees regime in the UK.

Charles University in Prague has also seen applications rise from 11 during the whole of 2010 to 24 in the first three months of 2011. The medical university at Gdansk in Polandalso reports a surge in interest from UK youngsters.

While fees at Cardenal Herrera are higher than they would be in the UK next year (£17,356 a year) – when all dental and medicine schools are expected to charge the maximum £9,000 a year – students appear to be prepared to fork out the extra for the enhanced lifestyle of a living in a warmer climate.

Fees in Gdansk are the same as they would be next year in the UK.

Kal Makwana, managing director and founder of the M&D group – which runs courses in Spain, said: “Foreign university fees no longer seem extortionate next to the UK system and in some cases are cheaper. I personally know of British students that have actually turned down offers from UK dental schools to study abroad with us.”

The brain drain has also extended to the Caribbean where M&D can offer students places on a number of four year courses which means two years studying in the Caribbean and a further two years in the UK or US. Last year 46 UK youngsters applied. In the first three months of 2011, this has already increased to 48.

The latest figures from the UK show that 27 of the 37 universities to declare what fees they plan to charge from September 2012 have opted to go for the £9,000 maximum fee for all courses.