The UK is losing its students to foreign universities

Sarah Spickernell
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Students dream of having fun abroad (Source: Getty)

While international students are coming to the UK at an unprecedented rate, the nation's own students are increasingly choosing to head abroad.

Research by the British Council shows how in 2014, 28,640 British students went to study at foreign universities – big increase from 18,105 the year before.
And according to its new “broadening Horizons 2014” study, which is based on a survey of almost 3,000 British students, 34 per cent are now interested in having some kind of overseas education. Half of these were undergraduates, who made up just 25 per cent in 2013.
Why the increase? According to the survey, almost half want to do it for the fun of traveling and experiencing different cultures, while a third said they would like to ultimately live abroad. For just 15 per cent it was because they wanted to study at the best university for their course.
The most popular subjects for overseas study were creative arts and design, followed closely by social studies, business and languages.

Not a bad thing

While students heading elsewhere to study might appear to be a loss for the UK, it actually has some big advantages (provided the students come back to the UK after).
In 2013, the CBI released a report revealing how 55 per cent of UK employers were unhappy with UK graduates' foreign language abilities, while 47 per cent were disappointed in their cultural awareness – both aspects that could be improved by studying abroad.
Professor Rebecca Hughes, director of education at the British Council, said students were becoming more aware of the “value to be gained” from international experience.
The UK needs graduates who have the skills and confidence to compete globally, and can compete against foreign talent that may speak more languages, and have wider international experience.

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