More on fees….

9:43 pm Hong Kong Education


The cost of education is so often at the forefront of discussions about education as it is the money available that sets many of the limits on what can be taught, to whom and at what level. New figures released in the last couple of days and reported by the BBC, have brought fees into the limelight yet again (although they’re never far from it, it must be said). Of particular concern are the latest figures for overseas students – the most lucrative and vulnerable group in equal measure.

Fees for British and EU students attending full-time undergraduate university courses in the UK are capped at GBP3,290 but there is no limit to what universities charge students from other countries, and with looming spending cuts, many of them are turning to the overseas market as a way of making up potential shortfalls. The BBC reports that the average fees for non-British/EU students will rise 5.6% to GBP10,463 in 2010/2011, with some subjects more than double that if they involve heavy usage of resources such as chemicals or lab time. The average within the Russell Group will be GBP12,162.

These changes will probably be borne fairly easily by the market but one has to wonder where the ceiling is, or where diminishing returns will begin to set in. Overseas students are bound to start asking what extra they can get from a British education that they can’t get from the US, Australia or Canada among others (not everyone can go to Oxbridge or the big Londons). They are bound to start asking why they should subsidize all those British and EU students, especially the mediocre ones at mediocre universities many of whom are just avoiding work or the dole.

I for one, sincerely hope that the government will keep a wary eye and make sure that the UK does not begin to lose out on attracting an invaluable pool of very high quality young minds to its shores, especially to its best institutions. Britain was and is built on an incredible cosmopolitanism, perhaps unrivalled anywhere else in space or time. The country gains from the students who study there, as they gain from those studies as individuals and as other societies gain when they go out into the world. As Hong Kongers we are acutely aware of the great disservice that was done when Britain denied its Hong Kong citizens full citizenship (pre-handover) as was expected by precedent, coming up with the ludicrous British National Overseas (BNO) classification as a fop. Then, half the talented and wealthy middle-class of the territory quite rightly went to a welcoming Canada, and look how Vancouver has thrived. Let’s hope Britain has learned its lesson.

By Danny Harrington

Co-founder of ITS Tutorial School

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