Sir, John Gapper is right to note the intensity of cross-border competition for globally ranked universities ( Opinion, February 15).

This makes it all the more perverse that the UK government forbids UK students to apply for student finance to attend universities outside the UK, a ruling that in practice affects those wanting to study outside the EU, since UK students can attend EU universities on the same basis as other EU students. When MP Daniel Kawczynski raised this as a parliamentary question, he was told that “given that financial resources for HE are limited, it is not possible to offer funding for HE study abroad”. Given that UK students would take abroad the same funding that they would have if they studied in the UK, the effect on public financial resources would in fact be zero.

If UCL is to compete with Tsinghua in Beijing, ETH Zurich, and National University of Singapore, it must attract UK students on the basis of quality, not on the basis that it is the only one of the four recognised by those responsible for UK student finance.

David Critchley
Winslow, Bucks, UK

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