UK student university fees figures for 2010 and 2011 revealed overseas prices were up to six times as much as home fees. In October last year the Brown review sparked significant debate with its conclusion that universities should be allowed to decide what they charge students. This decision would see the cap on tuition fees lifted and allow for a 10% increase in student places to meet the rising demand for a degree-level education. The cap has however never been applied to overseas tuition fees and while universities could only charge UK undergraduates £3,290, the rates for students from other countries could and can still be far higher. Cambridge University currently charges overseas students £18,573 for its science courses. (Guardian News and Media Limited, 2010) With universities having free reign to decide what they should charge large fees such as this could increase even further.
While the Brown review did not address international student fees, concerns were raised about fears of disadvantaging EU students in comparison to international students. One paragraph states: ‘Finally, compelling students to pay a tax and thereby preventing them from paying fees upfront, on similar terms to international students, may be regarded as unfair (placing domestic students at a disadvantage compared to international students).’
Campaign: Background Research
Many international students come from China and India with 441,186 travelling from China and 170,255 from India in 2008. (Wikipedia, 2011)
The reasons both Chinese and Indian students choose an education abroad include the prospect of prosperity, while universities recruit students as a way of making money to make up for budget cuts and to access a ‘wider range of recruitment channels and service providers’. (Wikipedia, 2011)
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) 2009 World Conference on Higher Education reported that more than 2.5 million students were studying abroad during that year. UNESCO also claims the number of international students could increase to approximately 7 million by year 2020. The most popular destinations for travelling students are the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Australia. International students have increased in number by more than double, during the period between 2000 and 2007, bringing their total to more than 2 million. (Wikipedia, 2011)
The US had approximately 671,616 foreign student enrollments between 2008 and 2009, followed by UK with 330,000 and Australia with 280,000 registered overseas students. Significantly increasing numbers of students from China are choosing to attend universities in the US. In 2009 nearly 100,000 Chinese students enrolled to study at American universities. (Wikipedia, 2011)
The following is a comparison between the tuition costs of full time undergraduate programs in America, Europe and Australia (Hubpages, 2011):
Tuition costs in the USA range from $5000 to $30,000 per year. International students must pay approximately $20,000 while resident students are charged $9000. (Hubpages, 2011)
Canadian universities charge the least out of UK, USA and Australia. On average the domestic tuition fee is $9,000 while international fees are around $25,500. (Hubpages, 2011)
The European government recently begun considering reforming higher education and adopting a system that charges students. University tuition is currently being debated in Austria’s parliament. Six German states are currently requesting that the parliament put an end to the legislation that ‘exempts college students from paying tuition’. Staff at multiple universities in Belgium have decided to begin charging an enrolment fee of 500 euros for both EU and non-EU students. Non-EU students expected to pay an additional 500 euros for social security. Enrolment fees in Holland and Italy cost between 1,000-1,500 euros. Some students of Dutch university departments, such as business pay as much as 5,000 euros to be educated while graduate school student fees can be as high as 8,000 euros for tuition. (Hubpages, 2011)
On average the tuition fees for UK domestic students are £3000 per year, while international students must pay £10,000. (Hubpages, 2011)
Tuition costs approximately 12,000 euros per year for international students. The registration fee for EU students is 900 euros. (Hubpages, 2011)
France has 82 free public universities totaling 1.5m attending students. The only charge is for undergraduate enrolment which is 165 euros. Universities are not permitted to select students and those applying can only do so to institutions near them. None of the French universities have made it into the world’s list of top 40 universities. (Hubpages, 2011)
French university policies are geared towards improving the quality of their attending foreign students, making a selection based on their academic achievements. The university officials are aiming to avoid a “mass phenomenon” of unwelcome, de-motivated students whose main reason for applying is to obtain a visa to stay in the country. (Hubpages, 2011)
Germany universities have begun to charge 1000 euros for enrolment fees per year, for both EU and non-EU citizens. (Hubpages, 2011)
Education in Australia was free until 1988. However the country has maintained mid-range fees with full-time and post graduate degrees costing from AUD 10,000 to 20,000 per year. (Hubpages, 2011)
Campaign: Target Publics
The target for the campaign will be the general public, including both domestic and international students, parents of existing students, prospective students and their parents or guardians.
Campaign: Goals and Objectives
One of the campaign’s main objectives will be to spread awareness of international student fees. This will incorporate facts as to the exact amounts international students are paying in comparison to home students. Another goal will be to spark debate as to whether the general public considers these amounts to be fair and reveal the potential positive outcomes of reducing international tuition fees. Any negative outcomes could also be explored as well as possible ways to overcome these and maintain fair fees for international students.
A significant goal would be to encourage members of the public in support of the campaign to visit the website where they will be able to post their views and participate in online polls responding to questions such as: Should the international fees be reduced? The website’s visitors will be able to vote for ways of handling any negative outcomes to the reduction of the fees.
The campaign’s communication would be non-aggressive and would focus on the need for equality in higher education.
An effective method of communication would be the use of case studies to encourage members of the public to empathize with the international students having to pay high fees in order to educate themselves. The case studies could include details of international students’ backgrounds and the challenges they faced generating the money to pay their fees, as well as people who are unable to attend education institutions due to a lack of funds.
The objective of informing the public of international fees in comparison to home fees could also be incorporated into the case studies.
All communication would include a line encouraging members of the public to visit the website and post their views on the subject. Another possibility could be asking people to fill out surveys to establish their opinions on international student fees and asking people to sign petitions for a reduction of the international tuition fees.
The issue of international fees will no doubt arouse a debate and opposition. Debate website, Debatewise, is proof of this. (Debatewise, 2011)
The campaign should not cover this debate up but should address it in advance and come up with suitable responses for the flyers, adverts and interviews. In this way the opposing comments can be used rather than covered up, which could be detrimental to the campaign.
The action strategy will focus on radio, TV, internet and print.
All the different elements of action strategy will promote the website where supporters will be encouraged to post comments and take part in the opinion polls.
Radio and television interviews could include campaign leaders and international students to create awareness of the comparison between international and home fees and addressing the possible outcomes of decreasing international fees.
Radio and television adverts would continue to focus on case studies and presenting facts and figures. Adverts would always end with encouraging listeners or viewers to visit the website.
Another television strategy could be to film campaigners out and about and conduct vox pops with the general public to get their views on international fees. When faced with a member of the public who believes the fees should stay the same interviewers should be sure to ask why and come up with solutions for issues that the member of the public raises. In this way the viewers would be informed in an engaging way. The footage could also be uploaded onto the website with the option for the website visitors to post their comments.
An attempt could also be made to conduct interviews with government ministers, from local MPs to education ministers, in order to discover directly from them why the fees are as high as they are for international students, why they have remained this high and whether they believe the campaign or any other strategies could lead to the reduction of the fees. This interview should take place during the campaign in order to incorporate public opinions into the meeting. The meeting should be followed up after the campaign has ended to get the government ministers’ views on the campaign’s outcome.
Flyers would again incorporate case studies. It would be necessary to include a photograph, name, age and country of origin on the flyers for each of the case studies. These could be distributed as part of a free pack including a pen and USB stick combined. This type of free gift is sure to be kept as it is both unique and useful.
I estimate the campaign’s required budget to be $300,000
The most accurate way to evaluate the success of the campaign will be by assessing the number of hits, comments and poll votes on the website, along with the number of petition signatures. The government responses will also be of significance.
The campaign could run for three months with the free pack distributions taking place both on the weekdays, to ensure students are targeted, and on Saturdays in town centres during busy shopping periods.
The TV and radio adverts would be regularly shown throughout the campaign and the interviews should be spread out throughout the three months.
Despite the issue of university fees sparking debates over the years, particularly during this financial climate, the international fees aspect has yet to be addressed. If this campaign focuses on awareness of international fees it will highlight this issue and give a significant voice to international students. Through compiled feedback in the form of comments, petition signatures and opinion polls, as well as government official responses, it will be possible to generate supporters for the issue and evaluate the situation more clearly in order to consider any possible next steps.
Guardian News and Media Limited (Ct) In Browne review: Universities must set their own tuition fees. (2010). Retrieved from www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/oct/12/browne-review-universities-set-fees
Guardian News and Media Limited (Ct) In Tuition fees 2010/11: find out how much each university charges. (2010). Retrieved from www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/oct/12/tuition-fees-universities#data
Independent.gov.uk (Ct) In Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education. (2010). Retrieved from
www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/corporate/docs/s/10-1208-securing-sustainable-higher-education-browne-report.pdf , pg 52
Wikipedia (Ct) In International Student. (2011). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_student
Hubpages (Ct) In Comparison of tuition costs of higher education around the world. (2011). Retrieved from
Debatewise (Ct) In International Students are Charged Unfairly High Tuition Fees at UK Universities. (2011). Retrieved from http://debatewise.org/debates/219-international-students-are-charged-unfairly-high-tuition-fees-at-uk-universities