British students wishing to get a university degree on the cheap are better off looking at options outside their own country, according to the analysis released by HSBC. Even when ancillary expenses like flights and boarding are added in, England now ranks as the fourth most expensive country for British students to earn their undergraduate degrees behind only the United States, Australia and Canada.
The HSBC report found that it will now cost, on average, £15,586 per year, including tuition, room and board, to enroll in a university in Britain. This means that it would cost students almost as much to attend school in their own country as it would to enroll in a college in Canada, even including the additional transportation costs that would involve.
In total, it would cost an English student £15,670 to attend a Canadian university in 2012/13, including the price of tuition fees, living costs and flights. James Yerkess, HSBC head of foreign exchange, said: "While many people have focused on English speaking destinations, our research shows that these are among the most expensive places for English students to study.
In light of the numbers, Yerkess advises students looking for a bargain to give universities on the continent a second thought. Even students who don't know the local languages can still take advantage of the cheaper tuition, since many of the best universities in Europe offer English-only degree programs. In addition, spending a few years acquiring fluency in a second language is bound to pay off in terms of employment and salary in an increasingly global economy.
Students starting courses in the UK this term are being required to pay tuition fees of up to £9,000-a-year for the first time. But English undergraduates are being hit by the highest charges as students in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland receive free or heavily subsidised tuition from devolved governments.
Surprisingly, HSBC found that attending college in the United States wouldn't actually be the most expensive option. When all the costs are factored in, it would cost British students about £19,609 to become a student in a university in America. In Australia, which topped the list, the total cost would be slightly higher. On average, a year at an Australian university would run a student £19,986.
All other countries examined as part of the study were cheaper. This included Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
Although the HSBC report is timely, it is clear that many students have already reached similar conclusions. Earlier this month, The Daily Telegraph reported a sharp uptick in the number of students who were preparing to take admissions exams for universities outside the country.