Overseas students get British degrees in the comfort of their own homeMar 24th, 2009 | By meliha | Category: Features, Meliha
Overseas students who are cannot afford to study in the UK are still able to benefit from British universities who are exporting their sought-after degrees to hundreds of thousands of overseas students.
According to new figures released from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) nearly 200,000 offshore students studied for qualifications from 112 British universities last year, earning the sector more than £268m in fees.
British universities have long relied on the roughly £2.5bn that overseas students bring when they come to the UK to study, but the new figures reveal for the first time the extent to which students are taking UK higher education qualifications overseas.
With student numbers at home restricted by the government, many British universities are looking to expand their offshore operations to reach a potentially enormous market of students seeking the prestige of a UK degree but without the means to travel abroad.
Liverpool University has set up an alliance with Xian Jiaotong, in China, that awards its degrees. Kalvin Everest, director of academic affairs, said: “The UK system is small in global terms, with very high quality teaching and research. Lots of students will want to come to the UK, but we need to take what we offer to other countries as well. There’s an incredible undersupply of providers given the demand out there in the world.”
The University of London and the Open University have the longest established distance learning courses, and educate the bulk of offshore students – 63,140 of the 166,000 doing English university courses.
The 2007-08 figures show that more than half of offshore students were on distance learning courses (100,360), while 7,090 were at overseas campuses run by British universities. Most of the remaining 89,190 students were studying for qualifications offered by UK institutions in collaboration with foreign partners.
The majority studied undergraduate courses, with just under a third taking postgraduate qualifications.
Between 8,000 and 10,000 students studied for UK qualifications in Greece, Russia, Ireland and Trinidad and Tobago. Four countries – Hong Kong (21,280 students), Singapore (20,845), Malaysia (20,525) and China (10,450) – accounted for 37% of offshore provision between them. This compares with the 45,355 Chinese students and 25,905 Indian students that came to the UK to study in 2007-08.
The British Council estimated that the UK made £500 per student from twinning arrangements, joint programmes and franchises in 2003-04, compared with £2,706 from programmes on overseas campuses and £2,040 for distance-learning programmes.
This raises the question of whether or not the government is focusing its energies on offshore income made by students, whilst neglecting many promising students in the UK an opportunity to further their education.