Depuis plus de 900 ans, le prestige académique britannique est incarné, dans toutes les têtes, par le duo Oxbridge. Malgré une renommée mondiale et un statut de quasi-monopole pour les formations élitistes, le prestige d’Oxbridge semble être remis en cause par l’émergence d’une nouvelle concurrence sur le marché tendu de l’éducation au Royaume-Uni. Bath, Canterbury, University College of London seront-ils la nouvelle frayeur de Oxbridge ?
Worldwide, the English educative system is well-known for its academic prestige and remains epitomized by the world famous Oxbridge duet. But in the last decades, Oxbridge has had to cope with new competition from young universities offering academic excellence. Indeed by proposing almost equivalent education at cheaper cost, universities such as Bath, Canterbury and University College of London provide access to the second most successful education system in the world. Furthermore, those new rivals benefit from the attractive and dynamic landscape of their surrounding regions. For instance, Bath University was rewarded by the prestigious QAA quality mark last July 2013. It was recognized as the best university in terms of students’ satisfaction, according to the latest National Student Survey.
But competition between universities goes beyond the mere national market. To reach the podium of the most excellent universities, universities need to attract foreign students, especially European students. Thanks to the Erasmus exchange programme, 4,500 French students have studied in British universities last year. The University College of London is requested by the highest number of French students who expect to experience the uniquely attractive student life of England’s capital.
Even though the tuition fees are rather high (about € 7,000 a year on average) and the available places limited, the other universities are not as selective as Oxbridge. Thus, they will ultimately jeopardize the domination of the prestigious Oxbridge duet.
To end this article, here is an interview with an 18-year-old French student who has just finished her first year at the Canterbury Christ Church University:
1. Why did you want to study in England? Were there similar programmes in France? What made you choose England?
Elinor: I first decided to go abroad, and I chose England because I could speak English. The subject I’m studying (sociology and international relations) does exist in France but what I do here – double half-license – doesn’t exist.
2. Do you think the quality of your education is better than in France?
Elinor: Compared to university in France which is free, paying 10,000 euros per year seems a little expensive. I never went to university in France, so it would be difficult to compare. It seems to me that the levels are roughly equivalent. The main difference is that we are supported by tutors who care for us individually and give us a greater chance to succeed.
3. Have you applied to a prestigious university like Oxbridge? If not, why?
Elinor: No, I have not tried Oxbridge because I think it’s scary and because the admission requirements were difficult to achieve for someone just out of high school!
Ornella AUBARD & Laure DELAVALLEE