Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Tuesday, 5 July 2005 13:40 UK

Why we chose to study in Britain

By Alison Smith
BBC News education reporter

Post-graduate student Tulkin Sultanov
Tulkin Sultanov says attending the LSE will help his future career
"Reputation was important to me when I considered studying in Britain," says 23-year-old Tulkin Sultanov, from Uzbekistan.

Having studied at the only British school in his home country, he already had a good idea of how the British education system worked.

"I was impressed by the quality of teaching I had at school and I knew the professors at the London School of Economics were well-known in their field and consulted by the G8 countries," he said.

"The success of alumni from the university was also an attraction."

Visa hassles

But there are increasing concerns that students like Tulkin might be put off by problems obtaining visas.

The government is planning to remove their right to appeal against a rejection - prompting warnings from UK universities that it could deter overseas applicants.

Being accepted by his first-choice masters course at the LSE was no problem, but for Tulkin, obtaining a visa was already problematic enough.

I had wanted to arrive in London in good time, obtain the advance reading lists and learn how the library worked, but none of that was possible.
Tulkin Sultanov, LSE student on visa delays

Delays approving paperwork meant he did not get the ideal start to his course he had planned, since his visa only arrived at the end of September last year.

"I was close to missing the start of my course and almost asked to have my visa finally rejected to give me time to take up a place in the US, even though I was really keen to come to London.

"I had wanted to arrive in London in good time, obtain the advance reading lists and learn how the library worked, but none of that was possible.

"I had been told the whole process would take three weeks but it took two months."

Tulkin is not sure if he can stay in London for his graduation ceremony later this year.

After parting with 11,500 in fees for his one-year course in politics of the world economy, he must pay 500 to extend his visa.

"I feel I could be spending that money a little more efficiently had I been in another country," he said.

"The fees are high, and might be slightly cheaper in the US, but I calculated that the overall sum I would spend on a year in the US would be more."

Financial considerations were a factor for 24-year-old engineering student Lin Xie from China.

Though his parents are able to pay the 10,000 to study for a masters in engineering at Warwick University, he said in many other countries the degree length was two years, making the British course more affordable.

And he already had positive impressions of the British education system.

"I considered studying in the US but the universities in Britain have a very high reputation which is growing.

"Many have a very long history, and I knew I would get a traditional and high standard of university education here."

Fortunately Lin's parents were able to provide proof that they could foot the bill for the course, and his visa was approved straight away.

But the application process took several months, beginning in spring 2004 and requiring extensive documentation.

Good value?

The British Council says there are a million overseas students in the UK and two-fifths of post-graduate research students are from other countries.

It expects these numbers to grow rapidly over the coming years.

The government is increasingly acknowledging the value of the students to the UK's economy and is working to continue to attract them in an increasingly globalised education sector.

Do courses offer value for money for overseas students?

Student fair
The government is keen for overseas students to choose to study here
International students from non-European Union countries pay full-cost fees and some universities are now increasing overseas recruitment to balance financial losses for British students.

Both Lin and Tulkin feel they made the right choice in the myriad of opportunities available to them.

But Tulkin says despite all the advantages of his course, in some respects he might have got better value for money elsewhere.

"Other universities might have provided closer access to the teaching staff and better extra-curricula facilities, for example for sport.

"But for me it's important to ask if the course will return the money paid on it in the future. That will show how successful it was.

"For me I feel the academic return will be worth the expenditure."

SEE ALSO
Universities denounce visa move
05 Jul 05 |  Education
UK 'must sell education to world'
08 Dec 04 |  Education
Overseas students 'set to triple'
20 Apr 04 |  Education
The university 'market' is here
03 Apr 04 |  Education

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