Weakening pound: More Asian students eyeing UK varsities

LONDON: British universities expect to attract more Asian students than the US in 2009 because of the weakening British pound.

According to iGraduate, a higher education research group, the cost of studying in Britain has fallen sharply for many foreign students, particularly Asians.

The cost has dropped 10 per cent for students from India over last year, the group says. It is 46 per cent cheaper for Chinese applicants and 29 per cent cheaper for Malaysians, Financial Times has reported.

The number of non-British students applying to British universities for 2009 has grown by 11.1 per cent. There was a 24.4 per cent increase in early applicants from Singapore, up from 772 last year to 961.

The number from mainland China was up 3.2 per cent, with a 7.7 per cent rise for India.

The figures, released by Ucas, the central applications body for British universities, comprise students who have applied for medicine, dentistry, veterinary sciences and Oxbridge entry. Howard Davies, director of the London School of Economics (LSE), said, “The currency really does help us. When we were at two bucks to the pound, the total cost of coming to the LSE and living in London was really bumping up against the price of Columbia and Princeton, places that we see as our direct competitors.”

Apart from LSE, the universities of Nottingham and Manchester have also registered higher

numbers of applications than last year. Stéphan Vincent-Lancrin, a senior education analyst at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, said, “A weak pound will make the UK higher education more competitive against other Anglophone systems.”