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Higher education

The UK gets more positive ratings for higher education than for any other area. The reputation overseas of our universities and colleges is clearly a major national asset, but there are warnings in the data that UK higher education would do well to pay attention to.

Young people overseas see UK institutions as more attractive places to study the arts, humanities and social sciences than science, engineering and business, and better at theory than real world applications. They imagine too that US universities - which is the model against which UK higher education is judged - do a better job in looking after their students and, all in all, are more lively places to be.

A visualisation by postgraduate students in Singapore sums it up: the US university teacher wears Bermuda shorts, drives a convertible and spends time with students after a lecture. The UK teacher wears a suit, smokes a pipe, carries a black briefcase and leaves the lecture room as soon as he (sic) has finished. This is the Shadowlands image of UK higher education, which appears to be quite strong around the world.

The message about UK higher education is,

We have a very well respected product, but we need to counteract the impression that we are slightly old fashioned and out-of-touch. The challenge is to show that the UK offers the high quality, practically oriented courses that young people are looking for, that they can expect a high level of customer care while they are here and that it can be fun being a student in the UK.

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