Private school pupils fall for the lure of Harvard

CREDIT: This story was firs seen in Mail Online

Number shunning British universities for the Ivy League rises by a fifth in just three years, Mail Online reports.

The number of British private school pupils going to university in the U.S. has risen by a fifth in just three years as aspirational families look for new ways to give their children the edge.

Some of the very brightest students at elite schools are shunning Oxbridge even though American colleges can cost more than £100,000 for tuition alone.

Harvard is among the most popular destinations and is currently attended by Barack Obama’s daughter Malia and her British boyfriend Rory Farquharson, a former head boy of elite Rugby School. Brown University was also popular in 2014 – the year in which Harry Potter actress Emma Watson graduated.

Between 2014 and 2016, the number of private school pupils from the UK attending US universities rose by 19%, from 637 to 762, according to data from the Independent Schools Council (ISC). The council represents most private schools in the UK.

Demand is so great that London-based agencies are now charging up to £20,000 per pupil to guide families through the American application process.

One agency, Edvice, is understood to have pupils from top public schools including Charterhouse, Eton, Harrow and Godolphin. St Paul’s and Wellington College have even set up their own in-house departments to handle applications, offering half-term trips to visit Ivy League campuses and providing test preparation.

Barnaby Lenon, ISC chairman, said a growing number are choosing American universities, although the proportion of total ISC pupils remains small – around 2 per cent. He said the surge may be partly down to rocketing fees and living costs in the UK, coupled with the increasing availability of scholarships in the U.S.

“In the United Kingdom now you are paying £50,000 [including living costs] for a three year degree,” he said. “In the U.S. it is also expensive, but they have got a very extensive scholarship programme now going and are paying recruiters to come to Britain. Ten years ago, the great impediment to going to university in America was money. That is less the case now.” He added that many pupils at ISC schools like the ‘flexibility’ of U.S. degrees, which usually take in a much broader range of subjects.

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Admissions tutors in the U.S. are also much more interested in extracurricular activities and qualities such as leadership, which many private schools pride themselves on nurturing.

Mr Lenon added an ISC pupil had recently rejected a place at Oxford to go to Stanford because of its prestige in the field of nanotechnology.

Parents are now more willing to allow children to go abroad because of cheaper flights and easy communication via the internet, he said. And he admitted some pupils may be swayed ‘a little bit’ by the glamour appeal of universities that have been attended by the rich and famous.

The most popular university for British private school pupils in each of the three years was New York University (NYU), with attendance numbers jumping from 45 to 68 between 2014 and 2016. Former students include pop star Lady Gaga, actresses Anne Hathaway and Angelina Jolie, and film maker Woody Allen.

NYU costs £34,000 a year, meaning total tuition fees alone cost £136,000 as US degrees are typically four years. Tuition for UK degrees costs £9,250 a year.

Applying to a U.S. university is a gruelling process. Pupils are advised to set aside at least 80 hours to fill in the forms and apply to at least eight universities.

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