Friday, September 28, 2012

London's Calling: Fulbright College Fair

The Fulbright College Fair at the Kensington Town Centre
The Fair started tonight!  No roller coasters and cotton candy--just high school students from the UK looking to study in the USA!   This was a huge exposition of USA colleges and universities all huddled together in the Kensington Town Center in London.  Over 700 students and their families arrived tonight.  Officials predict some 3500-4000 more coming tomorrow.  The British are coming!  The British are coming!

Students from the UK are coming to the USA in huge numbers--larger than ever before.  I have tried to find out why.  First the main reason that I have been given is sharp tuition increase for higher education in the UK.  Some students and their families say that the tuition increase for higher education is driving them to the USA.  In the last ten years here in the UK, tuition has risen from free to over 9000 GBP.   So if they are going to pay tuition why not go to the USA?  Second, students are required to study a strict professional curriculum from the beginning of their collegiate career without the benefits of a liberal arts focus.  Students are wanting the benefits of being able to study many different subjects instead a narrow occupational focus from the beginning of their college career (that often begins in their secondary education years).  Third, UK students want a more holistic collegiate experience--one with collegiate sports, extracurriculars, and the social campus life of a USA college or university.  Fourth, Oxford and Cambridge are admitting fewer and fewer students due to funding and higher admission standards.  And last but certainly not the least, is the cultural reality that renewed interest in USA colleges and universities is being driven by a weekly UK television show called "Gossip Girl" that features a young woman in a USA college.  ( I will have a little research to do on that one!).

For whatever reason, USA higher education is considered the gold standard by students here in the UK.  Just like students in China, students in the UK are wanting to come to the USA to study.  This is a wonderful opportunity for us here at Wake Forest University.  I hope that we are ready 'cause London is calling!

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