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 Get Paid To Go To University 
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Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:47 pm
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Post Get Paid To Go To University
by: Nicola Woolcock

School-leavers keen to take a degree but scared of racking up thousands of pounds of debt in Britain are being offered tempting packages - and the chance of an adventure - by universities in Asia.

Harvard and Yale, the prestigious American universities, already offer lucrative funding to poach the brightest British teenagers. But now they face new competition from the East. Universities from South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand recently visited London to promote themselves to a British audience.

Ivy League competition

Many of their courses are taught in English, and they are trying to lure school-leavers by claiming that studying abroad will make them more attractive to future employers.

While Ivy League universities offer some generous bursaries, including living costs, competition to get a place is fierce and few succeed.

Students are expected not only to be academically brilliant, but well-rounded individuals with plenty of extra-curricular interests. Emma Watson, the Harry Potter actress, has reportedly visited American universities with a view to studying there.

Now Asian universities want to muscle in on the act. Eleven of them visited a university fair in London last month to find out how to market themselves to British teenagers.

They could find a receptive audience: fears over the recession mean increasing numbers of sixth-formers are questioning the cost of a degree - and how much value for money it represents.

A government review of England's top-up tuition fees will take place this year, and is expected to recommend that the £3200 cap is raised, or scrapped altogether.

Many students already graduate tens of thousands of pounds in debt, and going to university could suddenly become even more expensive.

Free flights to Asia

Some Asian universities are offering free tuition and subsidised living costs – with flights thrown in. Those wanting to attract British teenagers include Hanyang University in South Korea, which has campuses in Seoul and Ansan City.

A spokesman for Hanyang says: “Asian universities are trying hard to internationalise and to diversify their campuses and curriculum, and to bring in more international student groups.

“So far they have focused on North America, but universities such as ours now need to diversify into other regions, especially into Europe. The UK is naturally the first priority because its students speak English.

Courses in English

“This is our very first contact with the UK and British undergraduate candidates. They are probably completely unaware that they can come to Korea and take all of their courses in English.

“Companies such as LG and Samsung are increasingly seeking to recruit staff with international awareness and experience. One of the best ways for a student to demonstrate this is to have studied abroad in a country such as Korea, where they can take their course in English and be fully immersed in a foreign culture at the same time.”

Others keen to attract British school-leavers include Hiroshima University, Japan; King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Saudi Arabia; National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan; and Mahidol University, Thailand.

Dr Chanuantong Tanasugarn, the deputy dean in international relations at Mahidol, said his university had a good reputation for medicine and natural sciences.

He says: “Mahidol has the advantages of geographical location and rich, mixed cultures. It promotes the bridging of knowledge between the developed and the developing world.

“These characteristics would benefit the next generation of UK teenagers who want to position and relate themselves to this part of the world.”

Open chequebook

A spokeswoman for the university fair said Asian universities were “bringing their chequebooks”.

She adds: “It's a new concept breaking boundaries in international education. Asian universities are targeting both undergraduate and postgraduate students in the UK, enticing them with full tuition fee scholarships.

“For example, all degree-seeking international students who enrol at one Korean university receive scholarships, which include tuition fees with monthly stipends that can cover living expenses. In addition, first-year students receive reimbursement of their one-way flight to Korea.

“Students attending National Yang Ming University in Taiwan who are eligible for the Yang Ming University Scholarships will have their tuition fees, accommodation, insurance and miscellaneous costs covered.

“The UK’s top student talent is also being sought in the Middle East, where some universities are prepared to pay over US$20,000 per student per year, including a round-trip flight.”

Asia, the corporate powerhouse

Tony Martin, director for universities for QS, which organised the fair, says: “UK students should seriously consider Asia as a viable destination for their tertiary study, as this region of the globe not only has some of the world’s top universities, but also some of the powerhouses of the corporate world.”

But leading school heads questioned whether many families would be prepared to let their children travel so far.

Empty nest syndrome is anguish enough for some parents, particularly if their son or daughter moves to the other end of the country. They may say a firm ‘no’ if their child considers Malaysia rather than Manchester.

Pat Langham, headmistress at the independent Wakefield Girls’ High School, and former president of the Girls’ Schools Association, said: “I’m not sure they have the credibility of British universities and I think parents would be very worried indeed.

“Students are still quite young at 18. We always say to our pupils you should go far away enough for parents not to be able to pop in to see you, but somewhere close enough for them to reach you in an emergency.”

About The Author
Nicola Woolcock is education correspondent of The Times and a regular contributor to - the essential guide for parents choosing a school in the UK

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Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:23 am
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