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A survey from the International Graduate Insight Group (i-graduate) shows that the UK is reaching the US’ position as top attraction for overseas students. The over 11,000 respondents of the StudentPulse survey prefer the UK not only because of its well-respected universities but also because it is seen as a safer alternative to the post-9/11 US. The students also reckoned that it is easier to obtain a visa in Britain than in the States. Furthermore, recent figures from the Higher Education Agency (HESA) show an increase of 12 percent in the amount of international students in the UK between 2005-06 and 2006-07. Statistics from Ucas reveal a rise in overseas applications of further 8 percent, boosting the number of international students in Britain well above the count of 385,000 in 2007.
The popularity of Britain amongst overseas students does not come without its cons, though. The study Uneven playing field or falling standards: Chinese students’ competence in English by Viv Edwards, director of the National Centre for Language and Literacy, published in the journal Race, Ethnicity and Education shows that many Chinese students are struggling in their studies in Britain due to their lack of language skills. Even though the study suggests that universities need to broaden their tolerance for language variation, the respondents, many of them internal examiners and tutors, expressed their concern over maintaining academic and basic grammatical standards as lecture halls are filled with greater numbers of non-native speakers.
As is proved again, quantity does not always spell quality.