The number of students from the Middle East choosing to study at one of the UK’s higher education universities or colleges has seen double-digit growth in the past two years, according to figures collated by VisitBritain, the national tourism agency.
More than 13,500 students from GCC countries studied higher education courses in the UK between 2008 and 2009, an increase of 18 percent on the previous year, show the data supplied by the British Council.
Figures for the UAE specifically reveal that around 2,800 students, including 1,120 Emirati nationals, chose to study in the UK in the same year, indicating a rise of 16 percent.
Students from the region are not only choosing the UK as their preferred place of study because of the world-class academic facilities on offer, but also because of Britain’s fascinating heritage, multicultural communities and vibrant cities.
Those looking for a taste of the great outdoors are heading to universities in Scotland and Wales many of which are located in rural areas where students have plenty of opportunity to indulge in outdoor pursuits, such as racing circuits, quad bikes, fishing, shooting and falconry.
“While the priority for students is to find colleges and courses that suit their requirements, foreign students are also attracted to the UK by the array of extra-curriculum activities on offer across the country,” said Carol Maddison, UAE Manager, VisitBritain.
“With an estimated 65 percent of the Middle East region’s population under the age of 30 we are seeing an increase in demand for exciting adventures and unique experiences from our visiting regional students. In particular the British love of out-door adventure sports and pursuits is a great way for students to make friends and unwind after class,” she added.
St Andrew’s University, located on the east coast of Scotland, is ranked sixth out of the country’s top 30 universities in The Complete University Guide 2010, and was the higher education institute of choice for England’s future king, Prince William. The town is famous for its golf course but is also surrounded by wild countryside and beaches where students can go off-roading and fishing.
Heading slightly north is Scotland’s fourth largest city, Dundee, another well respected university town which offers youngsters the chance to take part in white-water rafting, kayaking and freefall abseiling. A visit to Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands with its stunning backdrop of mountain landscapes provides visitors with the opportunity to indulge in skiing and snowboarding. www.angusanddundee.co.uk
For students heading to prestigious academic institutions in Wales, such as Aberystwyth, Cardiff and Swansea, there are three national parks to enjoy. The National Mountain Centre in Plas y Brenin in North Wales runs rock climbing, caving, canoeing and numerous other activities and courses www.pyb.co.uk, while Snowdonia National Park covers 832 square miles of beautiful, unspoilt countryside. www.snowdoniaguide.com
For more information contact:
VisitBritain Media Teampressandpr@visitbritain.com