London, May 22 : British universities have comparatively become costlier for overseas students than other universities excluding the US, a report by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) suggested today.
The report also said that although British universities are unlikely to see a collapse in the number of international students, they couldn't afford to be complacent. It lists the biggest threats as cost, competition from overseas universities, and the belief held in some countries that British higher education is less demanding.
"It is expensive for an international student to study in England, more so than in almost any other country in the world. UK degrees are marketed as a premium product for a premium price. So far we have been able to maintain our position, but if price sensitivity becomes an issue, this may not be sustainable," authors of the report said.
According to the report the fees ranged from a very modest 235 dollars at the Sorbonne in Paris to about 18,000 dollars at the University of Sydney, to 21,653 dollars at Oxford. Only Harvard was more expensive at 31,456 dollars, but it also offers generous bursaries.
"There are concerns about the shorter courses offered in the UK and the relatively low amount of teaching provided, and private study required, in many courses in UK universities. There is a speculation that English degrees will be seen as 'study light'," The Times quoted report, as saying.
While Britain's relatively short degrees have been seen as a selling point in the past, the authors said this feature could "work against us in future," the report added.
External perceptions of the value of UK higher education qualifications have clear commercial implications for export-oriented higher education institutions, many of whom rely heavily on international student fee income for their viability.
Although Britain had previously been able to use teaching in English as an advantage, this was now less influential as many other countries also provided this service. The report said an international student survey found that "students were more satisfied with the English-language proficiency of teachers in the Netherlands than they were in UK".
The President of UK Universities Professor Rick Trainor said: "HEPI's report confirms that the UK remains one of the leading destinations for students looking for a quality higher education experience. UK degrees are valued around the world and lead to excellent employment opportunities. The higher education sector in the UK has one of the world's best quality assurance systems to maintain these standards. There is no evidence to suggest that demand from international students is about to wane."