Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Schools Grapple with 'Have A-Levels, Will Travel' Culture

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Schools Grapple with 'Have A-Levels, Will Travel' Culture

Article excerpt

Growing trend for overseas study a challenge for careers advisers

A rise in the number of students planning to go to university overseas is giving schools a new challenge in providing advice for sixth-formers.

Helping students to navigate university applications traditionally required a thorough knowledge of the Ucas (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) system.

But school leaders have warned that the increasing popularity of far-flung study destinations will require sixth-form tutors and careers advisers to become more savvy about universities outside the UK.

A survey by the British Council revealed that more than a third of students are interested in studying abroad. And the number planning to do so at undergraduate level has risen sharply, from 35 per cent last year to 50 per cent now.

Although almost half the respondents (47 per cent) said they wanted to spend just a year abroad, a quarter (26 per cent) were hoping to take their entire degree course overseas.

Hilary French, headteacher of Newcastle High School for Girls, said the numbers of students applying to study abroad had risen in recent years. "It is a growing trend, not only because of the cost but also for the courses and the whole international dimension," she said.

Students on sports scholarships in the US could expect specialised coaching and many European universities offered more contact time than their UK equivalents, particularly in humanities subjects, she added.

Small world

The most popular destination was the US, favoured by four in 10 of those interested in studying overseas, followed by Australia on 11 per cent.

But non-Anglophone countries also featured, with France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Japan and Italy all featuring in the top 10.

"The world is a shrinking place and [students] need to demonstrate a much broader skill set and be much more adventurous, less insular and less introverted," Ms French said.

Ucas has recently made provision for European universities to join its admissions service, meaning that students could include a non-UK choice among their options. So far, Amsterdam Fashion Academy is the only overseas institution to sign up.

"Each university has different criteria and it is our responsibility to advise the girls. …

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