UK students increasingly opting to study abroad

British Council study shows a third of students aged between 16 and 30 are interested in some form of overseas study

Young woman student reading by Lake Orta at San Giulio
Recent Erasmus statistics show that during the 2013/14 academic year, nearly 15,600 UK students visited another European country through the initiative. Photograph: Alamy

An increasing number of British students are opting to study abroad with some citing the attractive prospect of the benefits of living overseas, experiencing a different culture and working for international firms.

Studying overseas has become more popular, with half of those considering a university course in another country wishing to study at undergraduate level, a new survey by the British Council shows. A third of the students polled, aged between 16 and 30, said they were interested in some form of overseas study.

There has been a surge in interest of UK students in university courses that offer studying or working in a European country through the EU’s Erasmus programme, which has more than doubled in seven years, according to figures.

Recent Erasmus statistics show that during the 2013-14 academic year, nearly 15,600 UK students spent up to a year in another European country through the initiative, up 115% since 2007.

Figures from Generation UK China, a campaign launched two years ago, show that the numbers of students going to the Asian country to study or work have grown from about 6,500 in 2013 to nearly 7,400 last year, the British Council said.

In a similar initiative launched for British students to gain experience in India this summer, the British Council received more than 2,500 applications for the initial 500 places.

ProfRebecca Hughes, director of education at the British Council, said the findings confirmed that a growing number of young people were recognising the value of gaining 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,” Hughes said.

Zainab Malik, the author of the Broadening Horizons research based on a survey of almost 3,000 UK students, said the top perceived barriers to study abroad for UK students were costs and a lack of language skills.

However, Malik said students surveyed wafter studying overseas reported “those [language barrier] concerns were not as substantial as they initially had thought”.

“Their experience, coupled with accessible information, indicates that these barriers might be mitigated or even overcome,” she added.

UK universities have reported that during the 2013-14 academic year nearly 30,000 students went abroad, up significantly from just over 18,000 the previous year.

The country students would most like to go to is the United States, followed by Australia, France, Germany and Canada, the findings show but 42% of those polled were interested in travelling to non-Anglophone nations.

Of those who said they were interested in overseas study, nearly 50% said that they wanted to have fun travelling and exploring different cultures, three in 10 wanted to work for an international company and live overseas, while 15% said they wanted to go to the best university and get the best education available worldwide.

Nearly half of the students who were interested in overseas study said that the cost of UK university tuition played a role in their interest.

The study found that the biggest academic deterrent to studying abroad was a lack of foreign language skills – chosen by over half of those who were not interested or had not made a decision about studying overseas. While the top non-academic deterrent for students was the perceived cost.

Vivienne Stern, director of the UK Higher Education International Unit, said: “We need to better understand their motivations and what dissuades many others from taking advantage of opportunities,” in order to encourage more students to spend time abroad while at university.

More than half of UK employers were unhappy with UK graduates’ foreign language abilities, while nearly half were disappointed in graduates’ cultural awareness, according to a 2013 report by the CBI, a business organisation .

The fresh figures on UK students continuing to look overseas to study comes at a time when plans for a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union accelerate.

[Source:- Gurdian]