More people are studying for a British degree outside the UK than within it. But how good a time are they having?
A new initiative from the UK’s Quality Assurance Agency and the British Council (the soft power arm of the British government) is intended reassure overseas students of UK qualifications of the experience they will receive. At the moment, it consists mainly of a memorandum of understanding and an agreement to share information, apparently with few powers of enforcement. It remains to be seen how it will be tested by a future case of student unhappiness with a British higher education offering, or how it will cope with a major crisis which involves the risk of reputation damage to UK higher education as a whole.
Concern about the quality of UK higher education delivered abroad is partly driven by the government’s interest in expanding this form of provision. There is continuing political warfare in the current UK coalition government over the number of visas to be issued to international students. Taking their fees while they get a British degree without leaving home is seen as one part of the solution.