A recent survey by the British Council has found that a growing number of UK students are considering overseas study.
Over a third (37 per cent) of respondents said they were considering overseas study, which is a 17 per cent point increase on the proportion who said the same in a similar poll last year.
A thirst for travel and adventure and experiencing other cultures are the most common reasons for contemplating a university, college or summer school education abroad. But the survey also showed that higher university tuition fees in the UK are inspiring more students to look at higher education options in other countries where fees can be much lower.
The survey, conducted by British Council’s Education Intelligence service, found that the United States is by far the most popular study destination among UK students, chosen by a third of those considering a course in another country. In a parallel poll of American students, the UK was the preferred international study option, chosen by a fifth of respondents. Among UK students, Australia, France and Germany are the next most popular choices.
A fifth of the UK respondents who wanted to study abroad said they were motivated by wanting to experience other cultures through foreign travel and to have a “unique adventure”. When asked if an overseas study experience would help them stand out when applying for jobs in the future, 88 per cent of UK respondents said they believed it would. The greatest academic benefits of studying overseas were seen as gaining credit for the students’ field of study, improving language skills, and responding to limited options at home.
The biggest perceived barriers to studying overseas among British students are worries about fitting in with another culture, lack of confidence in foreign language skills, and concerns about cost and foreign travel.
A report on the findings, ‘Broadening Horizons 2014: Embedding a culture of overseas study’, suggests that one way these barriers might be overcome is by universities and colleges offering to send their students to study for a period at overseas institutions that they have partnerships with. Responses from prospective students indicated that this could prove a very popular option.