The number of UK students who would consider studying abroad is rising fast, according to the British Council
A survey of more than 2,500 students found 37% would take up a degree overseas, compared with 20% in a similar poll last year.
Rising tuition fees at home was the main reason for contemplating an education abroad, as well as gaining academic credit and language skills. The United States and Australia were considered the top study destinations.
It is difficult to establish exactly how many British students opt to study abroad as there is no central means of collecting this data. However, Unesco research suggests 28,180 British students (just over 1% of the total) were studying overseas in 2012. The British Council survey polled 2,630 students in the UK for their views. Of these, two-thirds (67%) were aged between 18 and 24. In total, 41% said they would not consider studying abroad; this compares with 65% last year.
Those who said they would consider studying abroad were asked if the increase in university tuition fees in England had affected them and over half (57%) said it had; this compares with 27% last year. The poll shows the main academic reason for students wanting to study abroad was to gain credit for their field of study (33%), followed by the chance to improve their language skills (26%).
There were also non-academic reasons, the British Council found, the most popular being the opportunity to travel overseas (chosen by 20%). This was followed by the chance to have a “unique adventure” (19%), to improve job prospects (17%), building self-confidence (15%) and the opportunity to establish international careers (15%).
The US remains the number one destination for UK students, picked by 33%, followed by Australia (9%), France (5%), Germany (5%) and Canada (4%). Fear of not fitting into other cultures was the greatest non-academic barrier to UK students studying overseas, with about a third (34%) saying this put them off.
Dr Jo Beall, the British Council’s director of education and society, said: “It is essential for the UK’s global competitiveness that our next generation gain more international skills and understanding, so it’s very encouraging to see that more UK students are considering studying abroad. “The internationalisation of the UK’s education sector cannot be a one-way process. More of our young people need to be prepared to travel if we’re to catch up with countries like France and Germany.”