UCAS Extended to European Universities

There’s an exciting development beginning this year, in the higher education sector for UK students.   For the very first time, six formers will be able to apply to Universities based outside the UK using the Ucas system.

This is a huge change and will bring much wider choice for students across the country.  It has been promoted by Ucas themselves who aim to try and mirror the growing globalisation of the education sector.  The result is likely to see a significant increase in the number of UK students who are studying abroad.

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It’s a logical step particularly with regards the growth of online teaching which is increasing competition too.  In fact many British Universities are already being accessed from many countries across the world with or without using UK proxies like this.

This change is not just for language related students, although that would certainly be one of the biggest benefits.  Many European universities are now offering many courses taught entirely in English.  What is more, the fees for some of these courses are often heavily subsidised and are much cheaper than the £9k cap that is implemented in the United Kingdom.

One of the first universities to join is that of Maastricht which is planning to target many students with lots of English taught courses.   There are still some problems however, the main one is that currently the student loan system is only available for British universities.  This has already changed in Scotland however and there is hope that the Government will extend that decision to England and Wales.

Although there has been nothing to stop Uk students applying to foreign universities already – bringing in the application to the Ucas scheme will greatly increase the profile of this option.

For example there are many English taught courses in Maastricht already and the course fees are approximately £1500 a year, significantly cheaper than the equivalent UK University.

A spokesperson for Groningen University, which has 23 undergraduate programmes taught in English and is 90th in global rankings, said the university was in the process of giving evidence of its accredited status and financial stability to Ucas. If approved as expected it would be on the admission service’s lists of institutions by the summer.

David Willetts, former coalition universities minister and a vocal supporter of overseas study as beneficial to the future economy, said he “warmly welcomed this opening up of the system”. Rejecting fears of a brain drain from the UK, he echoed calls for portable loans to ensure students could access continental courses.

James Beweather

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