A showcase for international universities targeting students in the UK is being trebled this year to meet the demand for information about studying abroad.
With more students considering applying overseas to avoid the dramatic rise in tuition fees and the fierce competition for places at universities in England, extra dates have been added to The Student World Fair.
Latest official figures show that the number of UK students applying to universities in the UK for this autumn has fallen by more than 23,000, a decline of nearly 8 per cent, following tuition fees being almost tripled to up to £9,000.
More than 200,000 students in the UK were unable to secure a place at over-subscribed UK universities in 2010 and The Student Room, the world’s largest student website, has found that 78 per cent of applicants would now consider studying at a university abroad.
The Student World Fair, which provides the only forum in the UK dedicated to international universities, is being extended to three events following the success of its inaugural staging last year.
More than 1,000 students, parents and school representatives seized the opportunity to meet with over 50 international institutions exhibiting at the first event held in London last October.
As the UCAS deadline for this year’s applications approaches on January 15, organisers have announced The Student World Fair will return to the Emirates Stadium on March 17 as well as being held for the first time at Old Trafford and Wembley Stadium in the autumn.
The events, which are free to attend, are expected to attract a total of around 5,000 visitors with more than 60 universities exhibiting from 15 countries, including the USA, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Jamaica as well as from Europe.
More than 90 per cent of students surveyed at the first fair were impressed with the information available and would recommend attending.
Representatives from international universities are on hand to answer questions and offer advice, and seminars are held on a range of issues including fees, employability and quality of teaching.
Jemma Davies, from The Student World Fair, said: “Students and parents in the UK are hungry for information from international universities and the feedback from the first Student World Fair demonstrated the need for us to hold more events this year.
“A lot of students are still unaware of the opportunities overseas but, with the rise in tuition fees from September and the shortage of places at universities in England, it is a serious option that many more want to consider.
“International universities are keen to dispel the myths about studying abroad and to educate UK students that courses are taught in English, that it can be cheaper to study and to live overseas, and that the quality of education is as good.
“Those that exhibited at last October’s event experienced a huge amount of genuine interest with many, for instance, the University of Amsterdam in Holland, expecting to see a considerable increase in UK applications.
“If you can afford the fees, which can start from £1,500 compared to up to £9,000 a year at a university in England, and you want to stand out from other graduates in the jobs market then it is a route definitely worth considering.”
Jamie O’Connell, from The Student Room, said: “We’ve seen a rise in discussion in our international forum as students are spending more time researching the alternatives to UK universities.
“From what we’ve seen on The Student Room, the rise in tuition fees hasn’t put students off going to university but instead they are making a more informed decision and putting more time into researching the courses and institutions as well as the alternatives to studying in the UK.”
The Student World Fair will be held at the Emirates Stadium, London, on Saturday, March 17, at Old Trafford, Manchester, on Saturday, September 29, and at Wembley Stadium, London, on Saturday, October 6.
At each event, there will be the chance for a student to win £3,000 towards the cost of studying abroad. Students can find out more and now register free for the first event on March 17, from 9am to 4pm, at www.thestudentworld.com