Foreign Policy Blogs

U.K. Universities Competing for U.S. Undergrads

All Souls College, Oxford

All Souls College, Oxford

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article on a small but growing number of U.S. students applying to British universities – not as study abroad but as their home institution.  The article is here.   U.S. high school and transfer students are looking at colleges outside the country as the price of an American college education continues to skyrocket  and as job opportunities here become less tied to an American degree (two trends at work here: more recognition by U.S. employers of degrees earned overseas and more Americans seeking jobs overseas as opportunities dry up here – see article here).  The WSJ notes:

Every college that features in the top 20 of the U.S. News and World Report’s most recent ranking of best U.S. colleges costs at least $34,000 a year for tuition and fees. Most, in fact, are closer to $40,000 a year, and quite a few top that level. The downsides of going abroad include: plane tickets, time zones, foul weather and the cultural labyrinth resulting from two nations divided, as the saying goes, by a common language. However, if one is contemplating spending at the higher end of the scale, there is also approximately $80,000 or more to be saved. More than 3,000 normally U.S.-domiciled undergraduate-level students applied to do just that in 2009, according to UCAS, the organization responsible for managing applications to higher-education programs in the U.K. And while only 1,330 were accepted, according to UCAS, the relatively modest numbers mask a rising trend. There has been a 27% increase in undergraduate applications from U.S. students since 2006, while the total number of U.S. students studying for full degrees at British higher-education institutions as of 2009—across both the undergraduate and postgraduate levels—stands at just over 14,000, data from the U.K.’s Higher Education Statistics Agency show.

And it is not just the U.K. that is attracting the attention of U.S. students and their parents.  Earlier this year I wrote a post about “reverse brain drain” and included a section on American students applying to Canadian universities:

[a]s education and career advancement opportunities continue to improve in other countries, U.S. universities might very well find that they have to compete to retain American students.  In other words, over the next twenty years it might not be so uncommon for U.S. students to apply to graduate school in other countries, and in large numbers.   And then maybe undergraduates will follow.  Already, more U.S students are opting for college in Canada, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer: “During the last decade, the number of American students at Canadian universities has more than doubled, says the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, to 8,200 in 2007-08, up from 3,312 a decade ago.”

But the days of low tuition fees in the U.K. and Canada might not last.  Canadian tuition is on the rise (see here) and as I write this Britain is experiencing a nationwide protest by students against kikes  in tuition (see here).



James Ketterer

James Ketterer is Dean of International Studies at Bard College and Director of the Bard Globalization and International Affairs program. He previously served as Egypt Country Director for AMIDEAST, based in Cairo and before that as Vice Chancellor for Policy & Planning and Deputy Provost at the State University of New York (SUNY). In 2007-2008 he served on the staff of the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education. He previously served as Director of the SUNY Center for International Development.

Ketterer has extensive experience in technical assistance for democratization projects, international education, legislative development, elections, and policy analysis – with a focus on Africa and the Middle East. He has won and overseen projects funded by USAID, the Department for International Development (UK), the World Bank and the US State Department. He served on the National Security Council staff at the White House, as a policy analyst at the New York State Senate, a project officer with the Center for Legislative Development at the University at Albany, and as an international election specialist for the United Nations, the African-American Institute, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He is currently a Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association and has also held teaching positions in international politics at the New School for Social Research, Bard College, State University of New York at New Paltz, the University at Albany, Russell Sage College, and the College of Saint Rose.

Ketterer has lectured and written extensively on various issues for publications including the Washington Post, Middle East Report, the Washington Times, the Albany Times Union, and the Journal of Legislative Studies. He was a Boren National Security Educational Program Fellow at Johns Hopkins University and in Morocco, an International Graduate Rotary Scholar at the Bourguiba School of Languages in Tunisia, and studied Arabic at the King Fahd Advanced School of Translation in Morocco. He received his education at Johns Hopkins University, New York University and Fordham University.

Areas of focus: Public Diplomacy; Middle East; Africa; US Foreign Policy

Contributor to: Global Engagement