Friday 15 January 2010

Value for money?

One of the consequences of the pressure on funding for higher education is that many of our institutions in Wales seek to increase the proportion of overseas students taking their courses, because their fees are not subject to the same restrictions as those for UK students.

One route used to attract students is the British Council, which has established a web site enabling foreign students to identify courses in UK institutions. Unfortunately, there seem to be a few problems with this website, as this blog has highlighted.

As the video clearly shows, as a means of promoting courses at Wales' institutions of learning, the website leaves a great deal to be desired. It seems that this is not a new or a recent phenomenon, however - as another post on the same blog reveals, the website concerned has been in place for eight years, and appears to have suffered the same issues from the outset.

In fairness, it seems that the problems aren't limited to Wales; similar searches for courses in the other parts of the UK yield similar results. Try it if you wish.

This 'service' from the British Council does not, of course, come free. As this page on the British Council's website shows, there is a hefty cost involved for those institutions which wish to use the Council's services, of which the course selection site is just one.

Competition for available foreign students is increasingly intense, and the result is that no institution is keen to ignore a potential opportunity. If the competition is using a particular website, well, 'perhaps we'd better be on it as well'.

The result is that the British Council has something of a captive audience, paying for a service which isn't really very good – and that there is little or no incentive to address the problems. Oh, and ultimately, of course – we are paying.

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