How can the UK Higher Education Sector Improve Value for Money for International Students?

In the wake of the recent release of the Augar review, how can the higher education sector provide the best value for money for international students?

The long-anticipated Augar review landed this week and its far-reaching recommendations have already sparked a lot of debate.

The review suggests that the UK government should invest an additional £1 billion in further education to help close the skills gap, while also slashing university tuition fees.

It proposed that annual tuition fees should be cut from £9,250 to £7,500, though students would have 40 years to pay back the debt, rather than the current 30 years.

To offset these lower tuition fees, Augar recommends that universities receive top-up grants from the government.

However, experts argue that universities are now facing cuts of around 11% over the next five years, and universities that focus on arts and humanities courses will be hit the hardest.

To deal with these cuts, universities could find some insights in our recently released 2019 International Student Survey, which revealed that 29% of respondents were willing to see cuts to sporting facilities and 26% were willing to see funding cuts to on-campus transport and student accommodation.

What do these recommendations mean for international students?

The UK government recently announced that EU students will pay the same tuition fees as domestic students for the next two academic years, so these suggested cuts will be welcome news for any EU students considering studying in the UK.

However, it’s a different story for international students, who still pay significantly more for a UK education than EU students and domestic students.

Additionally, while the UK government’s announcement and the Augar review spell good news for EU students, it still doesn’t completely alleviate concerns about future tuition fees increases, with some suggesting that EU student fees could be raised to international student fee levels post-Brexit.

What’s the bottom line for students?

In our 2019 International Student Survey, we asked those who were interested in studying in the UK how they expected to fund their tuition fees with 32% relying on a scholarship from their university, 24% using their own funds or their family’s funds, and 11% hoping for a scholarship from another funding body.

With many EU and international students relying on potential scholarships, it’s clear that tuition fees and the cost of living are already high for those coming to the UK to study.

Our survey revealed that 46% of prospective students value affordable tuition fee options when choosing a course; 44% value an affordable cost of studying and 43% value an affordable cost of living when choosing a country to study in; and 24% value affordable university-owned accommodation when choosing a university.

Affordability and value for money are clearly top of mind for prospective students. The UK government and universities need to work hand in hand to implement the necessary Augar recommendations to maximize value for money for these students.

To discover more insights from the 2019 International Student Survey, download your copy now.


About the Author:

As the B2B Content Marketing Manager, Sarah Linney is responsible for communicating the insights, research, and market analysis that have positioned QS as a thought leader in the higher education sector. After completing a Communications-Journalism degree at Charles Sturt University in Australia, Sarah worked in radio news and B2B print publishing before joining the content marketing sector. While working at a content marketing agency, Sarah was transferred to their New York office. She then led content marketing efforts at two tech startups in New York as a Content Manager before deciding to make the move to the UK and QS. 

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