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News ->Foreign students' fees prop up UK universities

Foreign students' fees prop up UK universities
By Venkata Vemuri, London, September 17, 2008 (IANS)

Indian StudentBritish universities are increasingly being propped up by income from foreign students, particularly Asians who now constitute over 20% of the total students studying in its higher educational institutions. The eighth report of the Patterns of Higher Education Institutions in Britain said since 2000-01 university income had grown by more than 50, the largest share coming from international students. Their numbers have doubled in the past decade and their fees now amount to £1.7 billion, a rise of 58% since 2002-03.

In 2001-02, there were just three institutions with more than 5,000 students from outside Britain. By 2006-07 that had risen to 14. The significant increase in tuition fee income is, to a considerable extent, attributable to the fees of international (non-EU) students, who pay nearly three times more than UK or EU students.

Professor Geoffrey Crossick, chair of the Universities UK Longer Term Strategy Group said: "Fees from international students have become a more significant income source for most institutions than research grants from the funding councils. There has been a marked increase in the number of institutions receiving more than 15 % of their total income from international student fees."

The report cautioned that as global competition for students increases, such growth may not be sustained. The report looked at trends in the university sector over the past 10 years. It found that enrolments of students from non-EU countries had increased by 105%. As a result, international fees were now a bigger source of income for most universities than research grants.

And in 2006-07, there was a greater growth in students from other EU countries than from within the UK, with EU enrolments rising by more than 6% and UK entries remaining static. In the same year, one in 10 students in the UK came from a non-EU country, compared with one in 20 coming from an EU country, BBC News has reported.

Professor Brian Ramsden of the Longer Term Strategy Group of Universities UK said: "In the 10-year period from 1997-98 to 2006-07 non-EU international student enrolments have more than doubled. China remains the most significant provider of students to UK higher education across most levels of study.

"India features very strongly among taught postgraduate students, and students from the United States are also prominent, especially amongst undergraduate visiting and junior year abroad students and at postgraduate levels."

In 2006-07, there were in all 701,700 students enrolled in British universities. Over 350,000 were home students. Among the rest, 142,555 came from Asia followed by 112,260 from the European Union. The remaining 95,000-odd students come from the rest of the world, including around 15,000 from the US.

China topped the Asian contingent with 49,595 students, followed by 23,835 from India, 11,810 from Malaysia and 9,305 from Pakistan. A majority of the Asian students are enrolled in the taught post-graduate courses, the figures being 21,620 for China and 15,500 for India. Over 18,000 students from China are in first degree courses, compared to just over 4,000 from India. China also tops in the list of Asian post-graduate research students with 5,170 enrolments as against just 890 from India.

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