International Britain?

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    After last week’s post went live, one reader very astutely observed I had named it ‘The Male-Female ratio’ rather than ‘The Female-Male ratio’ and whether this was perhaps not a misgiving. In all honesty I phrased it that way simply as a matter of standard practice - in hindsight I probably didn’t give it that much thought. Would a more relevant title have been in placing the word ‘Female’ ahead of ‘Male’? Possibly. Am I therefore perpetuating the cycle? Perhaps I too am victim of society’s prejudices despite my best efforts (!).

    But let us not read too much into it and instead move on to this week’s topic.

    Admittedly, I was hoping for more active participation from the readers in regards to the two questions I ended last week’s post with. But then perhaps I flatter myself in thinking I already have something of a string of readers. I don’t mean to demerit anyone, however, and want to thank everyone who sent me a message on some of the topics approached last week. Yet because I didn’t quite get the response I was hoping for, this is me having to improvise slightly.

    At the end of 2010 (or early 2011? Memory fails me) the UK government declared the end of the tuition cap for British students. Tuition fees were set to rise from around £3,000 to up to £9,000 per year. The purpose - to shift costs on education from government spend on to the students. The changes were set to take effect for students commencing Higher Education from 2012 onwards. An onslaught of criticism followed.

    Unsurprisingly, a study conducted mid-2012 demonstrated a significant drop in number of application to English universities - a decrease of 8.8% compared to two years prior. (1) However, curiously, at the time of the original announcement back in 2010 during a visit to China, Prime Minister David Cameron claimed: ‘In the past, we have pushed up the fees on overseas students as a way of keeping them down for domestic students. We won't go on increasing so fast the fees of the overseas students.’ (2)

    Very particular choice of words. ‘We won’t be increasing so fast the fees of the overseas students.’ It therefore seemed only a matter of time before we heard about an increase in tuition fees for the international folk.

    During the weekend, contemplating this post, I came across a recent survey conducted by The Complete University Guide, which states that next year, students from outside the EU may be liable to pay as much as four times fees charged to UK students. (3)  In a course made up of close to 60% of international students, give or take, these findings sound absolutely preposterous.

    Interesting to think of the implications on the global positioning of the UK on education - and perhaps London more specifically - as an international hub with a rich multicultural life. The UK is said to be the second greatest destination for international students, falling short only to the USA. If tuition fees are indeed set to rise so dramatically for next year, what is to stop the gap furthering between the USA and the UK as the preferred choice?

    In sport education, we come back to the ‘special circumstances’ under which the business of sport operates. The answer may very well lie within the variation between the American and European sports model, as it seems extremely counterproductive for one to go to America to study the European business of sport or the other way around. Not impossible, but rather implausible. The systems aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive and I’m not trying to side with one or another, but it would rather be like travelling to Germany to specialise in wine or head to Italy to study beer.

    I’d still like to understand what makes the MBAs in Sport Management in Britain so appealing to international students. The ones I’ve managed to speak briefly to during class (it’s hard being a part-time student!) have all relocated to the UK exclusively for the MBA. Is this reflective of the education in their own countries specifically in regards to degrees in sport or can we be more generalist about it? Yet if tuition fees are headed for another hike in prices - and if indeed international students may be facing fees up to four times the amount paid by Home and EU students - what does this hold for the future of education in Sports in the UK?


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