Why are more Bangladeshi students eyeing UK universities

A policeman guards the main gate of the fear gripped British Council Library on the Dhaka University campus, 18 June 2001. (AFP)

The number of Bangladeshi students applying at universities in the UK this year has seen a hike of 9 percent with compared to last year, according to official figures in London.

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the UK’s centralized university application system, on Monday said 190 Bangladeshi students for undergraduate courses at universities across Britain this year.

The figures do not reflect the actual number of Bangladeshi students who will be able to successfully join these courses from September 2018. However, these figures reflect the attraction of the UK as a destination for higher education for students in Bangladesh.

The latest UCAS figures revealed that the UK’s wider appeal, with applications from with the European Union (EU) also registering a hike in 2018.

UCAS Director of External Relations Helen Thorne said: “The UK’s universities are highly popular with EU and international students because of the quality of the teaching and experience they offer.

The figures do not reflect the actual number of Bangladeshi students who will be able to successfully join these courses from September 2018. (AFP)

Several factors

“There are probably several factors influencing the increasing numbers of applicants from the EU and beyond. For example, the weaker pound makes the UK a cost-effective place to study.”

Overall, more than 100,000 EU and overseas candidates applied at UK universities from autumn this year. The number of EU applicants increased by 3.4 percent to 43,510, and the number of international applicants increased by 11 percent to a record of 58,450.

The figures come amidst an ongoing debate within the UK government over the removal of students from the annual migration targets, which critics believe prevents higher fee-paying foreign students from accessing the UK’s education system.

British Prime Minister Theresa May indicated at a softening of her tough stance on the issue by admitting students do not have a long-term impact on migration figures.

During her China visit last week, May said: “There was a lot of abuse taking place in colleges – something like 900 colleges can no longer bring in overseas students because all too often they were being brought in to work, rather than for education.

“Once you see that abuse out of the system, students coming in for the period of their education and then leaving actually wash through the numbers – they don’t have a long-term impact on the numbers.”

A man walks past a University of Westminster campus building in central London, February 26, 2015. (Reuters)

Contribution to economy

University chiefs have been lobbying for the UK government to drop students from its overall migration figures to be able to attract more overseas students, who contribute significantly to the economy.

A report released last month highlighted that international students add £22.6 billion to the UK economy annually, indicating an overall benefit to the country 10 times greater than costs.

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Kaplan International Pathways released “The costs and benefits of international students by parliamentary constituency” research in an attempt to push the government to introduce more welcoming policies for international students to stem falling numbers in recent years.

According to UNESCO, Malaysia, the United States of America, the UK, Australia, Germany, and Canada are the top destinations for Bangladeshi students.

This article was first published in Dhaka Tribune.

Last Update: Tuesday, 6 February 2018 KSA 17:10 - GMT 14:10

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