Tuition Fee Increase Means UK Students Eyeing US Colleges

A loss for UK universities might be a gain for schools abroad, The Daily Telegraph reports. According to Graeme Paton, universities from outside the UK — including many Ivy League colleges in the US — are launching efforts to recruit students from England who are feeling disillusioned by the higher education system in the country due to the controversy over the rising tuition fees.

Last year, colleges and universities in the US played host to nearly 9,000 British undergraduates — and there are some who are predicting that this number will rise steeply in coming years due to the narrowing of the gap in the expense of attending school at home and abroad. For evidence, they are looking at the number of kids taking US college entrance exams like the SAT and the ACT has gone up by 30% over the past several years, with companies administering the exam expanding the number of the centers around the country to accommodate growing demand.

Figures published earlier this month showed that it has had a serious impact on recruitment rates, with the number of students accepting places onto British universities plummeting by almost 57,000 – 12 per cent – so far this year.

J Robert Spatig, assistant vice-president for admissions at South Florida University in Tampa, said this was a "carpe diem moment for recruitment of UK students".

Spatig believes that the "floodgates are going to open" once the students start hearing how the cost of attending some of the best research universities in North America could be comparable to the tuition charged by Russell Group universities in Britain. This, he believes, will be the main thing that will work to attract British undergrads to US schools.

Although the average tuition for US colleges tends to be higher — going up in excess of £20,000 per academic year — they are also more generous with need and merit-based financial aid to ameliorate the cost of attendance.

Janette Wallis, a senior editor of The Good Schools Guide, told how some bright students had been tempted to New York University's international campus in Abu Dhabi with free tuition, £2,000 living expenses and flights to and from the Middle East.

Parental interest in the US edition of the guide is growing in Britain as more families are considering the country as a possible destination for their children. Wallis believes that the latent interest to attend school abroad has always been there for British parents and their kids, but the tuition hike was the motivating factor that helped make the decision to convert that interest into reality.

Lauren Welch, director of marketing at the Fulbright Commission, said: "American universities are chomping at the bit to reach British students. We are seeing universities of all shapes and sizes come over the pond this autumn, including many newcomers. Universities are also staying longer, planning longer recruitment trips, tacking on school visits around the country."

09 25, 2012
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