UK universities using students as 'cash cows'

August 14, 2013

Research by The Complete University Guide has found that students from outside the EU could pay up to four times more than domestic students next year.

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The study, which asked 110 universities across the UK how much they intended to charge in tuition in the 2013/14 academic year, has highlighted the huge void in fees between UK/EU students and non-EU students.

Maximum fees payable by domestic and EU students are capped at UK£9,000 (US$13,943), however, average undergraduate fees for non-EU students for classroom-based courses stand at UK£11,289 (US$17,489) per year. Fees rocket for medical or dentistry electives, with overseas students expected to pay, on average, UK£24,228 (US$37,533) per year. Nine universities related that fees for clinical degrees would exceed UK£30,000 (US$46,475) in the next academic year.

Fee discrepancies in postgraduate courses were also highlighted in the study. Costs ranged from UK£2,000 (US$3,098) to UK£27,500 (US$42,601) a year for domestic and EU students, while non-EU students could face fees ranging anywhere between UK£7,900 (US$12,238) and UK£38,500 (US$59,641).

“It is scandalous that non-EU students are charged fees that can be thousands of pounds higher than those for other students,” said Daniel Stevens, International Students' Officer at the National Union of Students. “International students are an important part of the social, cultural and academic make-up of university life and should not be treated simply as cash cows.”

Stevens encouraged universities to make international students aware of the real costs associated with their university course, enabling them to budget accordingly.

A spokesperson for Universities UK (UUK), the voice of UK universities, noted that the country continues to be the second most popular destination to study after the USA and that overall satisfaction levels among international students remains high. She added, “It is worth remembering that international student fees are not regulated, as is the case with home fees. UK universities compete in a global market for international students, and their tuition fees reflect this.”
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