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14th April 2023

Opinion: American education is beginning to steal a march on British universities

Finito World


America has seen its reputation seesaw in recent years. This was largely due to the Trump administration, and there is very little to say, at time of going to press, that there might not soon be another Trump administration to add to the noise of the last.

But, if you look beneath all the bombastic headlines, the data shows that America continues to show considerable strength. It remains, for instance, streets ahead in all global power indices, measuring its cultural, economic and military strength. The dollar has never been stronger against the pound, and the Biden administration has also to a large extent rebounded from its unconvincing evacuation of Afghanistan by helping to orchestrate a strong NATO response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

As a result of all this, it’s not surprising that many UK students are thinking of studying in the US now – a development which has, in the opinion of some commentators, been exacerbated by the poor outcomes many experience in their UK counterparts.

We must be careful not to do down British education, which still has much to recommend it. However, a mixture of poor financial management, absent careers services, and wokeness is making some parents and students question the value of a typical degree.

In some instances, this is leading students to consider apprenticeships as a possible route, with public figures as diverse as Robert Halfon MP and Multiverse head Euan Blair, espousing this route.

The merits of this are clear: work comes first and the enormous expenditure – and in many cases, debt – which comes with a typical degree are avoided and a paycheck sought and attained with maximum alacrity.

But it might be that something is lost without university experience. There is the notion that learning is sometimes worth pursuing for its own sake, and that not everything in life comes down to money.

So if you want to retain the sanctity of that university experience, what are the benefits and drawbacks of heading to America to do so? That’s what Finito World recently set out to do in its exclusive report of the top Ivy League universities. We looked at location, campus culture, graduation rates, careers advice, and other factors in order to compile our exclusive list.

Either way, the data shows that many students are looking at their options and deciding that the US isn’t so bad after all – and, in fact, this held true even during the tumultuous Trump years – with 1,095,299 students enrolling in the US in 2018-19. That number dipped below 1,000,000 in 2020-21 due to the pandemic, but it will no doubt rise again in the coming years. UK universities beware.

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