As a Beccles student travels to Slovakia to study, we ask if more Norfolk and Waveney students are looking abroad to further their education

The increasing cost of tuition fees could see students from Norfolk and Waveney turning to universities in other countries to further their education.

With universities able to charge tuition fees of up to �9,000 per year for UK students, the latest figures from Ucas have shown a fall in university applications nationally of more than 200,000. In the eastern region this figure equates to a fall of 4,878.

Meanwhile, a recent study from national graduate careers website Prospects showed that a by-product of this is that studying overseas, rather than in the UK, is becoming an increasingly popular choice.

Headteachers in Norfolk and Waveney have said it is inevitable that in the future more students will consider studying abroad.

Jeremy Rowe, headteacher at Sir John Leman High School in Beccles, said: 'This is the future. It is an economic inevitability that as it becomes more expensive, people shop around.'


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However, Mr Rowe said that although higher education is expensive, it is still worth the investment.

'I don't want to see people put off by increased costs as I feel strongly that they should still go for it, it is still a brilliant investment,' he said.

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Dick Palmer, principal of City College Norwich, said his college offers some of the lowest tuition fees in the UK as they are keen to keep higher education 'attractive and affordable' for the local community.

He added that the college is mindful of an increased level of competition for students.

'With rising tuition fees we are very aware that there is increasing competition between higher education institutions to attract students, and that includes competition from overseas which we expect to see more of in the years ahead,' he said.

Figures recently released by Ucas show that on April 23 applications from students in the eastern region to university courses across the UK had fallen faster than the national average.

In our region, applications fell from 46,694 to 41,816, a decrease of 10.4pc, while nationally they were down by 7.3pc, which is more than 200,000 on the previous year.

The Guardian has reported that about 22,000 UK students now study overseas, which is around 1.7pc of the student population, but in October Prof Andrew Hamilton, Oxford University vice-chancellor, warned that top students could be lost overseas if more public funding was not given in higher education.

In December the head of Wellington College, in Berkshire, predicted that within four years a quarter of sixth- formers at the independent school will be heading for universities in the United States, while a recent survey of 500 school leavers and students by Prospects found almost a quarter, 24pc, planned to study abroad, with 73pc strongly interested or considering it.

However, chief executive Mike Hill said 'wanderlust' and a desire to try new cultures rather than the cost of UK study was the main factor for students choosing to go abroad.

Dominic Findlay, headmaster at Langley School, in Loddon, said that for now their students were looking to stay in the UK. 'The rise in tuition fees has had an impact on our students' thoughts regarding destinations – the positive side is that it has made the youngsters ensure that they have thought through both the course, the university and the full impact on their futures in terms of it being definitely what they want to do.'

Clive Bound, vice principal of Easton College, added that students are still able to get loans to help them and that the size and repayment period did not seem to be putting them off.

UEA director of admissions Mark Barlow added that a new system for loan repayments was actually making study 'very affordable' and that students were 'still viewing a British education as good value for money'.

CASE STUDY:

She's dreamed of working with animals since she was a little girl.

And when she got offered a place on a top postgraduate veterinary course in Edinburgh she thought her dream had come true.

But after finding out the total fees are more than �26,000 a year for graduates, because Scotland does not have capping in the same way as England, Stacey Lawrence, of Beccles, decidedis now preparing to travel all the way to Slovakia for her studies.

Miss Lawrence, 23, has always loved animals, but despite working two jobs and signing up to run a half marathon, she can't hope to raise the money to study at The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, in Edinburgh, where she was offered a place without an interview.

'The course is for four years and fees are �26,400 a year. I am from a working class background, my dad is a mechanic and my mum a nurse, there is no way that they are able to help me financially,' she said.

Miss Lawrence, who previously studied zoology and marine biology at Bangor, has previously worked at vets and farms in Bungay, Wangford and Flordon, waking up daily at 3am every day to help, just to get experience for her dream job.

She has written to companies for support and been working an admin job and doing bar work to raise money, but now she has signed up for a place at the University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy in Kosice, Slovakia, instead.

'It is �6,300 rather than �26,400, which seems so ridiculous, but it will be an amazing experience to study abroad,' she said.

However, Miss Lawrence, a former Sir John Leman High School pupil, in Beccles, still needs to raise money for this and as a keen runner decided to take on the Edinburgh Half Marathon on May 27, although after breaking her foot in a gym accident her boyfriend Sean Armstrong, 23, from Newcastle, will now be running on her behalf.

To sponsor visit www.gofundme.com/help-me-to-become-a-vet

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