higher education

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University Applications Fall

As new figures show that university applications for next year are down by 9%, a number of universities reveal they are considering dropping their fees to under £7,500.

Ever since the British government announced that university fees would be capped at £9,000 rather than £3,000 from 2012, experts have been predicting reduced student numbers. This theory has now been proven, with the latest figures from UCAS showing that overall university applications are 9% below last year's level.

However, whilst this headline figure shows a drop in applications overall, overseas applications have actually increased since this time last year. Whilst UK and EU students will be paying far more than previously, non-EU international fees have not significantly increased. This then explains why UK applications have dropped by 12% and international applications are staying strong.

Dropping 2012 Fees

Universities UK have been quick to challenge the figures, with chief executive Nicola Dandridge emphasising that "It's too early to read into these figures at the very start of the applications process". Despite this though, a number of universities are considering dropping their planned fees to attract more students.

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UK Foreign Student Numbers Double

New figures released by Universities UK show that the number of overseas students coming to study in the UK has more than doubled in the last ten years. Whilst EU student numbers have increased by a third, non-EU students have gone up by a huge 121% since 2000.

The study- Patterns and Trends in UK Higher Education, reveals that there were 280,760 non-EU students and 125,045 EU students studying in the UK last year. Both of these represent huge increases and indeed, the report emphasises that "one of the main trends over the last 10 years has been the success of UK higher education institutions in attracting international students".

However, despite these increases, the figures show that EU students still make up just 5% of the total students in the UK, whilst non-EU students account for just over 11% of the total 2.5 million students taught in the UK each year.

Country by Country

In terms of individual countries, China remains the biggest sender of undergraduate students with over 29,000 students in the UK. To put that in context, that is three times as many as its closest rival- Malaysia which send less than 10,000. However, when looking at postgraduate instead, there is a very different picture.

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The Best University in the World Is...

The latest world university rankings table has been released by the Times Higher Education magazine, and it shows the strength of the top universities in the UK. There are three British institutions in the global top ten, with Oxford in 4th, Cambridge 6th and Imperial 8th, and there are 32 in the top 200.

However, compared to US universities, the UK loses out, as the list features seven American institutions in the top ten, and 75 in the top 200. It is also a US university that heads the list, but maybe not the one that you would guess. With Harvard dropping in to joint second place, it is the California Institute of Technology (above) that takes the coveted number 1 spot.

The rankings are based on a number of different factors, including the staff-to-student ratio, research income, PhDs awarded and the citation of research. It also rewards those with a high proportion of international staff and students, thus encouraging truly international universities.


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Huge Increases in Foreign Student Numbers

On the same day that new figures revealed huge increases in international student numbers in the UK, a leading figure in Higher Education warned that politicians cannot be complacent.

Yesterday, the higher education statistics organisation HESA, released the figures for the number of non-UK students studying in Britain over the last five years. The results were startling. Between 2005 and 2010, the number of foreign undergraduate students increased by 27%, whilst non-UK postgraduates increased by a massive 37%. In comparison, UK based student numbers increased by just 5% at undergraduate level, and by less than 9% at postgraduate.

These figures show the extent to which UK universities have increased their intake of overseas students more and more each year. Due mainly to the added financial benefits that international students bring, almost every university in Britain has made a concerted drive to recruit more during the last few years.

"Redouble our Efforts"

However, there are question marks over whether this pattern will continue after visa restrictions and increased fees are implemented next year. With plans to restrict post-study work visas for foreign students, as well as the increased fees that EU students will have to start paying, leading figures are anxious about the future of international students in the UK.

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Universities Look to Cut Tuition Fees

A number of English universities are thinking about reducing their 2012 tuition fees following changes to Higher Education policy. The Office of Fair Access (Offa) revealed that around 12 institutions are looking to cut their fees from the maximum £9,000 to less than £7,500 per year.

The majority of English universities revealed earlier in the year that they will begin to charge the maximum £9,000 per year for courses starting in 2012 onwards. However, in an attempt to reduce this number, the government announced plans which benefit universities charging yearly fees of less than £7,500.

In its White Paper released in June, the government detailed how 20,000 students will be held back from across English universities. Any institution that charges average yearly fees of less than £7,500 will then be able to bid for these places.

Cutting EU Student Fees

Since this announcement, Offa, which makes sure universities provide enough opportunities for poorer students, have revealed that at least a dozen institutions have asked for advice about reducing their fees. The identity of these universities is unknown, but a spokesman from Offa said that the majority were currently planning to charge only just over the watershed £7,500 amount.

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