Students better off studying in the UK
29 July 2011
In a comment piece for The Times newspaper, Vice-Provost (International) Professor Michael Worton makes the case for staying in the UK to go to university rather than travelling to the US.
"The world of higher education has been changing radically over the past
decade, and the next decade will see the most significant changes
experienced over the past 50 years, as more and more countries invest in
higher education — and reconsider its nature and purpose.
Students are now travelling more to different countries to study, and they have very different expectations in terms both of their student experience and of their employment prospects, while employers expect broader skills sets as well as excellent disciplinary knowledge.
Student choice is now greater and it is more important to get it right. UK students are increasingly thinking about studying overseas. However, they also have the opportunity to study at some of the world’s most exciting universities on their own doorstep. It is widely recognised that our universities provide a stimulating and rigorous academic environment, which is why students from around the world want to come here.
At UCL, about 35 per cent of our students come from outside the UK, contributing to a cosmopolitan, friendly and inclusive atmosphere. Many of our undergraduates take advantage of opportunities to study for part of their degree in another country, thereby reaping the benefits of a UK education, whilst also learning about other ways of thinking, studying and working.
The landscape of higher education in the UK is changing, and we do not underestimate the serious financial decisions that now present themselves. If we are to maintain high standards in the new financial environment, students will have to make a larger contribution than before.
We are all determined that no student should be put off coming to study. While tuition fees for UK/EU undergraduate students will be set at £9,000 from 2012-13 at UCL and many other UK universities, an anticipated 30 per cent of additional tuition fee income that we receive will be spent on widening access — which equates to approximately £8.2 million a year when fully implemented. The package of support in terms of bursaries for students is of an unprecedented scale. All students with a household income of less than £42,600 will receive a bursary, with help concentrated on students from families with an income below £25,000. Our commitment to improving access is demonstrated by our challenging new targets, including one to increase our state school intake by 10 per cent between 2012 and 2017, with an annual 2 per cent increase.
In the new global higher education context, I would argue that UK students should think seriously about studying in the UK. Our universities offer some of the most innovative degree programmes anywhere, and we are increasingly working with business and industry to provide an excellent springboard for entry into the world of work. Studying here is a very valuable investment for the future. Above all, it provides an intellectually exciting and personally enriching experience."