Studying abroad, saving money

Marketplace Staff Jan 22, 2007

KAI RYSSDAL: For the first time in 40 years, Princeton University has decided not to raise tuition. Studying at the Ivy League school will hold steady at $33,000 next year.

Unfortunately for undergrads and their parents, room and board’s going up. That will put the price of a year in Princeton, New Jersey, at almost $44,000. Up more than 4 percent.

Private colleges have taken a lot of flak lately for raising costs. But top high school seniors, who are probably checking the mail daily for early admission acceptance letters, might have some leverage. Don Macgilliviray reports now from London.

DON MACGILLIVRAY: As university fees keep climbing in the U.S., some clever students are looking east for relief.

Applications from American students for places in British universities are up dramatically. The University of Oxford has seen a 48 percent increase the past three years.

Mike Nicholson is Oxford’s director of undergraduate admissions. He says it’s a combination of saving money and a chance to see the world.

MIKE NICHOLSON: They will get all the benefits that they would get from going to Harvard or Princeton. But they also get the international experience. Gives them a much broader perspective on the world. It allows them the opportunity to be in a fine institution, have access to global scholarship at a fraction of the cost.

The cost of learning is decidedly more affordable in Britain. In Harvard, one year of undergraduate tuition fees, room and board, health insurance and other charges will run about $44,000. At Oxford, all this costs $10,000 less.

In medical school, the numbers are even more compelling. After six years, a doctor graduating from Harvard will have paid $74,000 more than someone from Oxford.

Nicholson says you save money and you receive a quality education. Oxford is as good as it gets.

NICHOLSON: One of the particular facets and features of an Oxford degree is the very individual teaching style. Students have a very traditional tutorial system where they have one-to-one relationships with their professor. I suspect very few places in the U.S. where that sort of provision would be available.

Selina Kaing knows the score from both sides of the Atlantic. Originally from California, she spent four years earning an English degree at Harvard. She’s now enrolled at the Said Business School in Oxford.

She says she would likely have been accepted at Harvard’s business school, but then she sat down, did the math and decided she would save a ton of money studying in England.

SELINA KAING: It did play a factor in terms of, obviously, financing. How, you know, you would actually be able to live as a student. But having, you know, a different experience than I would have at, you know, going to . . . say, going to Harvard, or at MIT or something like that . . . was much more attractive to me. And, you know, it was definitely the better deal.

Many Americans agree: of the 18,000 students at Oxford, 1,200 are from the U.S. They’re gaining degrees at one of the world’s most-respected universities. And compared to fees at Ivy League colleges, they’re saving more than $12 million this year.

In Oxford, I’m Don Macgillivray for Marketplace.

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