For many A level college students in London and around the UK, the opportunity to continue with their studies overseas is an attractive prospect. But the decision to study abroad is not solely down to wanting to explore different cultures. The cost of university in the UK has forced many students to consider where their money may go further. It has been reported that more than 10,000 UK students were studying in the US in 2013-14, which is said to have been a direct result of the introduction of the £9,000 tuition fees in 2012.
Sixth form college or A level students can also be found flocking to Europe for alternatives to what’s on offer on British soil. The University of Geneva, University of Zurich and Uppsala in Sweden are currently among their top ten choices according to The Telegraph, where students can expect to pay as little as £1,500 a year in tuition fees. Students wishing to study at European universities are currently required to contact the institutions directly, but those due to leave this summer will have the benefit of a new reform, allowing them to apply through UCAS. Continental universities now offer more courses taught entirely in English than ever before (just under 1000, with Dutch universities being the biggest providers), and the access that can soon be gained via UCAS will put pressure on the UK government to allow tuition fees to be applied to courses abroad.
This decision by UCAS reflects a changing landscape in higher education. Many young people consider themselves to be ‘world citizens’, and feel that travel and exposure to different cultures should not be reserved for their gap year alone. Although there are many options for A level college students to choose from, not all European universities will be allowed access to the UCAS service. A joining fee of £25,000 is required by approved institutions, and they must be able to demonstrate that they meet or exceed the standards offered by UK universities before that approval is granted.
Students have chosen to study a wide range of subjects abroad, but there has been fast growth in the number of students who choose to leave the UK to study medicine. The competition for places in the UK is extremely high (between 5 – 16 applicants per place for Russell Group universities), so casting the net a little wider could prove beneficial. Study abroad agency The Student world reported that they had placed more than 300 British students in Bulgaria, where they can gain access to government back loan<
The continually attractive prospects being offered overseas could act as a wake-up-call to the UK government. Labour has announced that they propose to cut tuition fees to £6,000 per year should they get elected, but whether this is a realistic proposal remains to be seen. It is said that such a drastic cut could cause significant damage to the higher education system on the whole, and although many find £9,000 a little steep, it has not deterred poorer students from making their applications.