England has world's most expensive university tuition fees

Research says overseas students could be put off by online learning

England has the most expensive undergraduate tuition fees in the developed world, according to a new study.

Research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) looked at education systems from 38 developed countries and found that English universities were the most expensive in the world among publicly funded third level institutions.

University fees in England have tripled in the past decade and are capped at £9,250 ($12,754) per student. International students, however, can be charged significantly more.

Scottish students do not pay tuition fees in Scotland, and Northern Irish students benefit from a lower tuition fee cap in Northern Ireland.

The OECD report said: “Tuition fees in England are the highest for a bachelor’s programme in publicly- upported institutions across OECD countries with available data.

“National students in government-dependent private institutions in England were charged USD 12,330 per year for a bachelor’s degree in 2018/19.

“This was more than three times the amount that they were charged in 2009/10 on average, following reforms that raised the cap on tuition fees in 2012/13.”

A separate report by the OECD on the state of education 18 months into the pandemic says that Covid-19 could lead to a drop in overseas students, which may hit universities who rely on fees from their international intake.

Andreas Schleicher, director of education and skills at the OECD, said students go to university to meet people and “experience the social life of campus” and it will be a “real challenge” for universities if they keep learning online.

Mr Schleicher said the UK remains an “attractive place” for international students and that has not changed in the pandemic, but, he said, the offer is there “for the wealthy”.

He said: “I think finding a fair balance to attract the most talented rather than the wealthiest foreign students and I think there is something to be learnt from countries like the US, Japan and Korea who have made that more deliberate strategy in the last years.”

A Universities UK spokeswoman said: “UK universities are world leading, with the benefits of obtaining a degree here wide ranging. Graduates in England earn on average £10,000 more a year than non-graduates, and this is only one measure of success.

“The structure of the system in England means that no student pays fees up front and repayments are made based on a graduate’s ability to pay over their working life.”

Updated: September 17th 2021, 1:48 PM