In an article in the Sunday Telegraph, 15/09/13, Graeme Paton reports on the results of a joint HMC/Maastricht University survey which shows rising numbers of pupils from HMC schools opting to study for a university degree abroad.
Figures suggest nine out of 10 HMC headmasters have witnessed an increase in sixth-formers seeking courses in the United States, Holland, Canada and Australia over the last two years.
It is claimed that a rise in fees in England – combined with the prospect of enhanced career prospects abroad – is pushing some of the country’s brightest young minds overseas.
The disclosure follows the publication of figures showing that top US universities are reporting a rise in the number of places awarded to students from the other side of the Atlantic over the last 12 months.
Members of the elite Ivy League such as Yale, Princeton, Columbia and Pennsylvania told how entry rates among British students were in up 2012/13 compared with a year earlier.
The University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan also witnessed rises.
Many other universities – particularly from mainland Europe – are actively marketing themselves to British students and offering courses in English to attract the best talent.
It will reignite concerns over a “brain drain” of bright undergraduates to foreign countries.
The latest research was based on a sample of members of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents around 250 of Britain’s leading independent schools including Eton, Harrow, Winchester and St Paul’s.
According to the study, which was commissioned by Maastricht University, 91 per cent of heads said sixth-formers had become more interested in applying to universities overseas this year compared with 2011 – before annual tuition fees were raised to up to £9,000. This included almost a third who claimed there had been “much more” focus on foreign institutions.
The proportion was much higher than those responding to the question when it was last posed two years ago, when just 60 per cent claimed there was rising interest in courses in other countries.