International students studying abroad in the UK contribute £20bn to the British economy, and are a big revenue stream for UK universities. But these students are being discouraged from choosing the UK as their place of study due precisely to the extremely high costs they are forced to pay.
International students are so valuable to universities, and to the economy as a whole, as they are required to pay nearly three times as much in tuition fees as domestic or EU students. Whereas UK/ EU students need to fork out an already hefty £9,250 in tuition fees per year, international students must pay a massive £25,000.
On top of extremely high tuition fees, international students must cover travel costs to and from what are typically long-haul destinations. Take Chinese students, for example, who make up 16.4% of the student population in the UK. If these students visit home only once during their academic year, they will have to pay an average of £1400 on air travel alone, not to mention transfers and the cost of transporting their luggage.
As well as the typical student maintenance costs, such as accommodation (averaging £4,875 a year), food and utility bills, international students need to ensure they are legally allowed to study in the UK by obtaining a visa at a cost of £348.
It is not just higher costs that put a strain on the budgets of international students. It’s also the fact that they do not have access to the same funding sources as domestic or EU students. Tuition fee loans and maintenance loans are not available to international students from outside the EU, which means such students need to fund everything themselves. There are scholarships and bursaries available to international students, but these are few and far between, and are extremely competitive. As a result, only the richest international students are in a position to choose to study abroad in the UK.
Of course, the UK is only one of many destinations that wealthy international students have to choose from. The US remains the favourite destination for students wishing to study abroad, and Australia is expected to overtake the UK as the second most popular destination. This may be due to incentive packages offered to international students, as well Australia’s warmer climate and closer proximity to countries like China and Japan. Its main student cities, Sydney and Melbourne, have also received a lot of good press, having made the list of the top 10 student cities in the world, according to QS Top Universities.
It is thought that Australia could overtake the UK as soon as next year, as the number of international students choosing Australia increases steadily, while the UK seems to have reached stagnation. Between 2011 and 2015 international student numbers in the UK increased by a meagre 2.6%, whereas Australia saw a 12% increase in the same period. This slow rate of increase is worrying for the UK economy, especially in light of Brexit, which could see EU students avoiding the UK in favour of other EU countries.
With this in mind, Adam Ewart, CEO and founder of Send My Bag, believes more needs to be done by the UK government and universities to ensure we do not “miss out” on international students, by engaging in similar incentivising strategies as those used by countries like Australia. Adam warns that ‘a decline in the number of overseas students coming to the UK will seriously damage our economy. The government and education providers need to take a hard look at making the whole process easier and more attractive’.
Send My Bag can make life easier for international students by sending their luggage to and from university. This allows overseas students to create a home from home with minimal effort. All they need to do is pack their things into bags, boxes or suitcases and arrange a collection with Send My Bag. Their items will then be delivered direct to their student accommodation. This allows students to enjoy their journey to university without struggling with masses of luggage and without worrying about excess baggage fees. Find out more about student shipping and student discount with Send My Bag.
Wizz Air has announced changes to its hand luggage allowance that mirror those made by Ryanair at the end of August.