Going Dutch has new appeal for UK students

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DUTCH Universities are actively recruiting students from Yorkshire as sixth formers look overseas for alternatives to avoid the £9,000 tuition fees which come into force in England this year.

A business which works with 16 universities from the Netherlands has also been working with schools around the region to raise awareness among young people about the benefits and challenges of being an international student.

A Star Futures managing director Mark Huntington expects about 1,000 students from the UK to start courses in Holland this September.

Mr Huntington said this would be about a three-fold increase on last year and he claimed Dutch Universities could eventually overtake the United States as the most popular destination for Britons wanting to study abroad.

One of the main reasons for more interest is the tuition fee increase at English universities which sees the annual cost of a degree rise from £3,375 to as much as £9,000 in September.

This contrasts with the Dutch higher education system where annual fees are less than £1,500-a-year.

Mr Huntington said universities in Holland were particularly appealing to British students because of their proximity, affordability and because so many institutions deliver degree courses in English.

Last week representatives from Avans University of Applied Sciences, in Breda, and Hanze University of Applied Sciences, in Groningen, attended a seminar in Leeds to meet with potential students and their parents to discuss applications this year.

Mr Huntington, a Leeds University graduate, started A Star Futures six years ago, delivering advice to students in colleges and sixth forms on the advantages and obstacles to studying abroad. Since starting business, the enterprise has made more than 600 presentations to schools.

Mr Huntington says he has seen a major increase in interest in studying abroad since the plan to almost treble the cap on fees was announced in England – with Holland being among the main areas of interest.

He said: “Three years ago around 25 per cent of the questions we would be asked were about studying in Holland. Last year it was 50 per cent and this year it is 60 per cent.”

The situation has also created an increased in interest in recruiting from the UK among Dutch universities. Two years ago Mr Huntington was working with three universities in the Netherlands now he works with 16 – all of which teach some degree courses in English. Hanze University’s international marketing director Monique Swennenhuis said that it had not recruited large numbers of English students in the past but was now seeing more applications. She told the Yorkshire Post that Dutch universities now had an opportunity to recruit more English students because of the tuition fee increase.

She also expects that once more English students go to the Netherlands it will help to attract future generations through “word of mouth”.

“These students will become the best ambassadors for us” she added.

Ms Swennenhuis said that one of the advantages of studying at a Dutch University of applied sciences was the guarantee of a year’s work placement in a four-year course and smaller class sizes.

Mr Huntington said that although higher tuition fees at home were making more sixth form students consider studying abroad it should not be the only reason a young person chooses it.

He said that young people who go to foreign universities normally have more linguistic ability, are more outward going and have parents who recognise the importance of the global economy.

Dutch university degrees cost around 1,700 euros which can be paid up front or in 10 monthly instalments.

English students can apply for loans to cover the cost of these fees.

They can also apply for extra financial support to help with their living costs if they are under the age of 30, work at least 32 hours a month and pay Dutch national insurance on their earnings.

Tuition fees in England will be as much £9,000-a-year from September but repayments do not start until a graduate is earning more than £21,000-a-year with the payments rising as their salary increases.