Universities in the UK have been an educational Mecca for students aspiring for higher education. However, with passing time the education system in the UK is lagging behind in the modern global setup. Many OECD countries are catching up with the UK’s education standards as the UK has not been able to raise its education standards with needs of time.
The education sector of the UK can be divided into three main categories:
• School Education
• Further Education
• Higher Education
An opinion poll commissioned by public universities clearly indicates that UK residents back investment in universities to maintain quality of research and teaching. The public clearly understands that high quality universities are important for the development of individuals, society and economy of the country. Universities heavily rely on external funding to provide high quality student experiences, deliver world class research and develop highly skilled graduates needed for the development of a nation. In a tight financial environment, the government is finding it tough to provide adequate funds to universities for their research activities and innovation in ways of learning.
In today’s economy, the importance of higher education extends beyond teaching. UK universities play an important role in the country’s economy. UK universities continue to enrich and impart knowledge and understanding to students globally. International students studying in the UK bring a large amount of revenue, equivalent to 3 billion pounds, to the country’s economy. International students are important for the success of the UK’s higher education system. They contribute approximately 8% to higher education budgets and also contribute to local economies through their off-campus spending. These students studying in the UK are likely to become political leaders, captains of industry and opinion formers of the future. These links play an important role for the UK in trade and diplomatic terms.
Twenty-five percent of immigrants to Britain are students and the number is bound to rise in coming years. The influx of international students is mainly the result of marketing efforts of higher educational institutions. UK universities fiercely sell their courses to international students. Each foreign students brings around 15,000 pounds in the way of fees and living expenses. UK universities continue to play an important role in an uncertain economy. International students pay full tuition fees while enabling universities to provide subsidized education to local students. In a scenario where government funding is felt inadequate, international students bring a bounty of funds that can be used by universities to improve their education and research standards to stay ahead in global competition.
UK universities now generate about 59 billion pounds and have left behind sectors such as agricultural, pharmaceutical, advertising and the postal industry. The importance of the education sector in the UK is increasing gradually. The focus of UK universities is research and teaching. Some universities are, however, research intensive and transfer knowledge to businesses and other organizations. This procedure is called knowledge transfer, and UK universities use expertise and the facilities of these business communities in return.
Governments in different parts of the UK are encouraging universities to seek private funding. Universities establish links with businesses and industries in several disciplines in long and short-term research. Some universities have also established regional consultancy agencies to foster ties with the industry. UK universities are expected to play a greater role in the UK’s knowledge-driven economy. The global completion and requirement of funds will push universities to look for alternative ways of funding in future.