Friday, September 23, 2011

Students look for university overseas

A YORKSHIRE school is aiming to become a centre of excellence at helping students apply to international universities to avoid next year’s tuition fee hike.Harrogate Ladies’ College is looking to develop contacts with universities around the world as increasing numbers of young people look to study abroad once £9,000-a-year fees are launched.Headmistress Rhiannon Wilkinson and head of the independent girls’ school sixth form Richard Tillett said there was no doubt that more students would look outside England for their higher education under the new system.

They also warned that as fees rise some universities in England will need to “buck their ideas up” in order to persuade students to stay in the country.Mr Tillett said:The tuition fee hike is fundamentally changing the whole climate of higher education.There are already 40 universities across Europe which deliver courses in the English language. Some Dutch universities such as Maastricht teach almost entirely in English and courses in Holland will cost students 1,600 euros compared to up to £9,000 here.Mr Tillett said overseas universities were already looking to attract English students because of the soaring fees here.If you take away the United States, which is a separate system and which has always been expensive, the fees in this country are high, especially when compared to the rest of Europe.The fees will undoubtedly lead to fewer people going to university. I know the Government says it won’t but I do not understand the logic of what they are saying.

It is already changing students’ attitude – we are seeing it here at the college. Girls are less keen to take subjects like history, English and classics because they don’t see a job at the end of it.I am not saying this is right but this is what the perception is.We have spoken to parents who are also wondering whether sending their child to university is worth it because of the cost, and this is in an affluent area like Harrogate.Fees for non-boarding students at Harrogate Ladies’ College are more than £4,000 a term.The college is planning to hold sessions getting pupils to better understand different university systems and learning cultures around the world.Mrs Wilkinson has personal experience of the benefits of an international education having taught in schools in both Brunei and Hong Kong.

She added:I started thinking about this issue as a parent of a 17-year-old myself looking at the costs of going to university in England with the decline of tutorials and the larger and larger lecture groups which students are experiencing.Studying abroad gives you the chance to meet people from around the world and learn skills that our students will need if they are going to be a success.It means going to university is not just a rite of passage into a drinking culture. It introduces you to people from different backgrounds and to different cultures.When I worked in Hong Kong I used to think the biggest advantage of going to an international school was the confidence that it gives young people. Students who go to university abroad are going to be well placed to work in an increasingly global economy.Mr Tillett said:Young people who are 18 now are going to be working in a world where places like China and Hong Kong increasingly control the economy.If you look at what has happened over the last 30 years who knows what the world will look like in 30 years?The school was already being contacted every week by overseas universities wanting to promote themselves to British students, Mr Tillett added, and next month he will be taking a group of school girls to an event in London organised by the American Fulbright Commission to sell the idea of going to university in the United States to Britain.

The cap on tuition fees at English universities is set to increase from £3,375 to £9,000 next year as Government funding cuts to higher education of £2.9bn begin.

Universities will become more reliant on income from fees which will be paid up front by Government loans. Graduates will only begin paying this back once they earn more than £21,000 a year.

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