Earlier this week, Mary Curnock Cook, head of Ucas, spoke at the HMC annual conference in St Andrews and suggested that independent schools are preparing students with narrow, almost identical outlooks on life. The necessary conclusion of this being that the life experience of such students does not provide the diversity that successful organisations need in the 21st Century.
Quoted in The Daily Telegraph she said, “It seems to me that not only are (independent school) students going to the same universities that their parents went to, but they are also studying the same subjects that their parents did.
“So I worry about a little sub-section of society which is sleepwalking though an identikit education experience into an off-the-peg life which mirrors what generations of the affluent classes have aspired to.
“The future is not what is used to be – the new sciences, digital economy, digital and creative industries have changed the shape of employment.
“Maybe just maybe some of them should give serious thought to choosing to study something different, somewhere else.”
Where that somewhere else might be is left unstated. I doubt there is much of a case to be made for encouraging able British students, and their aspirational parents, to go to “lesser” universities in the United Kingdom although it certainly would not harm them to look at a wider range of courses. The identikit education experience to which she refers can probably be better avoided at universities abroad.
There is plentiful evidence that studying abroad can shape the outlook of any young person and almost always for the better. However, even if independent schools, parents and students are looking for a narrow, evidence-based rationale for choosing a university abroad the recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings can provide this. Although these rankings are largely inappropriate when assessing the quality of these universities’ undergraduate teaching and student support, undeniably they give an indication of overall quality and reputation.
Below we present a snapshot of those universities in the Top 50 in non-English speaking Europe that offer Bachelors degrees in English. Over the last two years, all but two of these universities have seen their overall ranking improve. Perhaps it isn’t all that surprising that more British students are going to study abroad particularly in the Netherlands. It would seem that City firms might be able find the talent they need in the near future but they will also have to cast their net a little wider when looking for the best talent.
|Rank||University||Country||Global Rank||Bachelors in English|
|11||University of Amsterdam||Netherlands||58||5|
|12||University of Utrecht||Netherlands||62||3|
|13||Delft University of Technology||Netherlands||65||2|
|17||University of Groningen||Netherlands||74||25|
|22||University of Freiberg||Germany||84||1|
|26||Georg August Universitaet Goettingen||Germany||99||1|
|38||Radboud University Nijmegen||Netherlands||130||6|
|47||University of Twente||Netherlands||149||12|
|48||VU University Amsterdam||Netherlands||154||3|