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Does it make sense to spend thousands of £ to go to university in the UK, if one can study for free in Germany?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hello styleforumers,
I would like to start studying next year and wondered, what you think about the question in the title.

What I hope to get from studying in the UK:
- well equipped university (from my experience "you get, what you pay for" applies in education)
- looks better in CV
- improve language skills
-> increased chances to find employment outside the EU

Are these hopes realistic?

Thanks in advance,

In case this is important: I am not yet sure, what exactly I want to study, but it won't be something involving (lots of) math or nature sciences.
post #2 of 17
It depends on the person, as vague as that sounds. Personally, I can't fathom being in debt just so I can travel abroad to go to school. If my family was affluent then sure, I would love to travel abroad to get an education. I also think this helps in term of gaining a global perspective on life.
- well equipped university (from my experience "you get, what you pay for" applies in education)
That's false. I know many people who went to "no name" state universities and are doing very well. On the other hand, I have friends who took out major loans to attend well known schools and can't even get a job that correlates to their field.

There are threshold for sure. IE: If you want to be CEO of Google, the prestige of the university will play a role.

At the end of the day, it depends on what you're specialized in. (This is a big generalization on my part). I would rather have a useful degree from a lesser known institution than a degree in say, History from an Ivy League school. Of course again, if your family is affluent, then it probably wouldn't matter much because of the connections and networking you can utilize.


I forgot to mention this. I'm writing from the aspect of an individual that grew up in the U.S. I know finding good paying jobs in other parts of the world is harder. In some parts of the world, everyone is expected to go to college so that means a college degree is the new high school diploma which makes it useless. With that said, you need something to make you more competitive so it's common for wealthy families to send their kids to get MA and MS in the U.S. and U.K. Even those who are not rich will take out loans to fund their children's education with hope of them getting a good paying job one day.
Edited by wj4 - 9/4/11 at 9:53am
post #3 of 17
I have a few friends who are German but came over here for their Degree. In my experience the quality of bottom-mid tier universities are similar in both countries. Hard workers will do well, losers will fail in both countries.

If you are considering top-tier then the UK wins every time. Cambridge, Oxford, St Andrews, York and a few others are some of the best in the world. I believe that this year Cambridge overtook Harvard with Oxford in third place. In this instance there are few Universities in the universe at which to obtain a better education.
post #4 of 17
Why not study somewhere else in Europe?

There are plenty of good ones outside the UK wink.gif I just started at Vlerick, Nr. 13 on the list, and it's fairly cheap, 10 000 euro.
post #5 of 17
Originally Posted by philipp View Post

Hello styleforumers,

- well equipped university (from my experience "you get, what you pay for" applies in education)

I wouldn't say you do 'get what you pay for', you will find people paying the same amount will have radically different university experiences. If you are doing a bachelors/first degree I wouldn't worry about how well 'equipped' the university is- any respectable university will have all the equipment you need. I chose a university with a top rated research department in the area that interested me after being wowed by all their fancy kit, which I then didn't see again for the duration of my course. You will be better served by worrying about its reputation with employers and the quality of teaching and social life available.
improve language skills

Clearly your English will get a lot of use, but you should be pretty much fluent before you come otherwise you may find studies hard. Different courses have different levels of 'tolerance' of non native English speakers. Marking on my masters, which was very international, was pretty lenient when it came to the quality of written English and help was available with understanding lectures. The same can not be said of my undergraduate degree.
-> increased chances to find employment outside the EU

The 'name recognition' for the better quality UK universities may well be higher, particularly in the US, but if you are going to a lower tier university I doubt it would make that much difference.
post #6 of 17
Oh bugger, missed the last bit of op's post. If this is for an undergrad level, and you want to do math/sciences, I don't think there's any point in paying extra just to go to a university that'll look better on your resume.

And the connection between cost and quality is mostly BS: education is cheaper here than in the UK because of higher subsidies, that's it, unless you get into one of the "elite" ones.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
First of all: Thank you for all the replies.

As for the financial aspect: I am going to have 35k € savings by fall 2012 and could get around 8.5k/year from my parents.
Top-tier universities are out of reach for me as I am having neither any superintellectual hobbies, nor an impressive GPA.

The "you get, what you pay for" was mostly based on a comparison between the private school my girlfriend went to and the state school I went to.

Thank you for the link to the FT-rankings, however I am more interested in the humanities and arts. Not to forget, that my mathskills are close to nonexistent ...

Conclusion: If I cannot get into a top-tier university, it would be better to study in Germany, because the positive aspects of studying abroad are too small to justify the far higher cost. (?)

Just saw
and you want to do math/sciences
That's exactly, what I do not want to do. Except maybe physics, which I find quite interesting - then again this involves learning math.
post #8 of 17
Whoa, my reading skills are even worse than usual today. The FT stuff is more for after you get a grad degree and want to do something else after that. What you can always do is go on Erasmus, so you can get some foreign experience without having to do everything there.
post #9 of 17
I'm not sure how the cultural aspect works in your country. But in many poorer countries of the world, if you can say "I obtained a master's from the UK or US"....that's pretty big. For foreign students, I feel like they're studying twice as hard because in addition to getting admitted into the school and passing the TOEFL or IELTS, you still need to comprehend the subject matter.

If you don't know what you want to do, I suggest you find the answer first. Seems like the normal (well paying jobs) are out of the question since you don't like math or science, ie finance, accounting, engineering.

My advice is wherever you go, always do your best. I would much prefer a B in a class knowing that I did my best than an A knowing I skated by with an easy teacher. Also, visit office hours and ask questions. Even if you don't have questions correlating to the class, you can always ask about potential career choices and stuff like that.

Since you're young and I assume you still have time for stuff, I suggest you find internships to do. Not only will they give you a better grasp on what that profession holds, it will allow you to network and will reinforce your CV/resume.

Good luck in your choice and stay determined.
post #10 of 17
We could have a long ass discussion about this, but the bottom line is the following:

One of two types of people benefit from attending foreign universities:

a) People from developed countries (or any country, really) who attend globally elite schools such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Oxbridge, etc. The list of these schools is not very big and places like St-Andrews and York are not, in any way shape or form, a part of it.

b) People from poorer countries, and especially from commonwealth countries, who study at foreign universities and then return to their home countries for work. The foreign diploma often is a leg up for these types of students, which is why so many Indian nationals have studied in the UK in the last century.

Aside from that you're almost always better off attending the best possible school within your own borders if you wish to work there. Germans are better off going to Heidelberg, Japanese to Todai, Koreans to a SKY university, Canadians to UofT, etc, etc, etc. Beyond that I'd argue that an American is usually better off attending a big state school than some UK school that might be good but no one stateside has heard of.

I'm sure someone will fly in with an anecdote that proves the contrary, but as a general rule this is the way it goes.
Edited by Lord-Barrington - 9/4/11 at 4:41pm
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Also to you two, thank you for your helpful posts smile.gif
Seems like the normal (well paying jobs) are out of the question since you don't like math or science, ie finance, accounting, engineering.
Could you please specify "well paying" ?
Aside from that you're almost always better off attending the best possible school within your own borders if you wish to work there.
I am not too sure about that. At the moment the situation is as follows: More and more companies expect students to study at least one semester abroad (not really important in which country and at which university), but less and less students are willing to do that, due to high cost. Therefore a B.Sc. from a british university could be an advantage.
post #12 of 17
I wonder what you mean by "well-equipped" when you say you don't want to study natural sciences and anything involving math.

Somehow I would associate the term well-equipped with courses like chemical engineering, physics, medicine etc. involving lab research.

Also, why do you want to look for work outside the EU? Is this a personal wish or because you think there won't be any jobs for your qualifications in the EU? If it's the latter, let me tell you the chances of finding a job with a degree in arts/humanities are no smaller in the EU than anywhere else.
post #13 of 17

I don't know what country you're talking about but in North America and Europe, having studied abroad isn't a criteria to work for any company I know. Or, if it is, it's maybe #100 on the list of qualifications sought.

Employers mostly care about where you studied, where you went to school, and what you'll be able to contribute from day one. University students are still somehow under the impression that employers care about your extra-curricular activities, your interests, and your experiences in foreign cultures. The vast majority of them just do not care.
post #14 of 17
If you want to live in Europe it's not a terrible idea to go to school there.
post #15 of 17
Maybe I can give you some insight based on my experience. Just as the background: I grew up in Germany and completed an engineering degree at one of the major technical universities. Afterwards I went to the US and obtained a PhD at one of the top-5 engineering schools before joining a management consulting firm in the US and ultimately switching into a industry position in Europe. So I have some first hand experience of the German and Anglo-Saxon educational systems.

Base on my experience it is unfortunately often not easy to make a call if going to university in the US/UK is better or worse than in Germany. There are some exceptions: If you want to major in law, (dental) medicine or education you should get your degree wherever you intend to work since foreign degrees are often not accepted to practice law, medicine or teach at high school in a country. In other fields such as engineering, science, management, economics, liberal arts those restrictions do not exist giving you a true choice between educational systems. Some things you may wanna consider:

- Educational style: The Anglo-Saxon system is more school-like (you will receive homework, class attendance is more or less mandatory, you will receive more guidance), the German system is based on personal responsibility (you can decide of you wanna attend classes or not, but ultimately you need to understand the content to pass the exams).

- Equipment: The prevailing stereotype on US/UK universities is that lab equipment, professor-student ratios, etc. are much better than e.g. in Germany. This is only true for the top schools there. I visited some tier 2 schools in the US and Britain which could only dream of the resources available to German universities.

- Prestige: Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford, Yale, etc. look great on any resume. However, be careful! The Imperial College in London or the University of Michigan ware world class universities. Unfortunately those names are not widely known outside of academia in Germany. This means you might have paid substantial money for a degree from an elite institution which nobody knows in your home country.

- Experience abroad: Another SFer wrote that he isn't aware that international experience is a criterion for employment. This is (I am sorry for saying so) bullshit. In the US it is still not an essential criterion, but it is very beneficial to get a job in the big consulting firms (i.e. MBB) or global corporations. In many European countries and especially in Germany it is a key requirement for getting a job with the most prestigious employers. Forget about getting a job with a DAX company, a consulting firm, a Big-Four auditing firm without having studied/worked a year (or more) abroad

My recommendation would be to do a part of your university education abroad. However, I'd do the undergraduate degree in Germany and then go for a Master of PhD abroad. At graduate schools you will often be able to get an assistantship which comes with a waiver for the often horrendous fees and tuition at US/UK school.
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