There has been a 40 per cent increase in enrolments of non-American students in higher education institutions in the US over the last decade. This is an inverse of trends at Cambridge, which offered places to 48 Americans in 2009, steadily decreasing to 38 last year.
TCS spoke to several Cambridge students about their feelings regarding applying to American universities. Queens’ PPS second-year Arianna Freschi, who turned down places at American establishments, said: “[T]he course was just [better-suited] for me. The American ‘liberal arts’ curriculum might seem appealing to someone who isn’t fully committed to what field they want to go into, but it ends up giving rather superficial, general introduction courses across the spectrum and forcing you to spend time on subjects you know aren’t for you… not to mention, it would kinda [sic] suck being underage!”
Matthew Anisfield, doing his third year at Cambridge but majoring in Music and Philosophy at Union College, a liberal arts college in Schenectady, New York, has a different take: “I liked the freedom of the liberal arts education. I had interests in Philosophy, Economics, Maths, Music and Theology, and no course in the UK allowed me to explore my interests. [Also], I liked the ethos of small liberal arts colleges. They [have] little in the way of research facilities and consequently, [their] academics… are there because they want to teach, they don’t teach because they have to. The result is a high level of individual care in each student. [Furthermore, the] high college fees you hear about aren’t as high as they seem. They tend to include accommodation and food. [And] American unis [sic] give bursaries much more readily than in the UK. Indeed, at many colleges, the majority of students receive financial aid. So it’s not even that much more expensive.”
Third-year Historian Jon Booth had a slightly different take: “You get a little sick of Cambridge. It’s a bit insular, and I quite like the idea of being somewhere warm…. Basically, I just want to get out… I can’t speak any foreign languages, so it’s probably best to hit the big leagues in the States.”