British universities are probably the best – soft power

When one cautiously enters the arena of debate about student immigration one often encounters the argument that British universities are some of the best in the world and that this is why they are so popular with international students, despite the Government’s allegedly student-unfriendly immigration policies.

And, certainly, a lot of statistics and information support the idea that many of the world’s best universities are in the UK and the US.

But British universities may have a slight edge over the American ones. Did you know that, currently, no fewer than 58 heads of state or heads of government were educated at British universities? Only 57 were educated at American ones and French universities came a distant third, with only 33.

This is according to a survey carried out by the Higher Education Policy Institute. Subjects studied did not in all cases have a political edge. Adama Barrow, President of Gambia, studied property management and Haider al-Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq, studied electrical engineering.

It is often said that the UK’s higher education system engenders an enormous amount of “soft power”. This is a term that one may struggle to define, but 58 British-educated world leaders may help.

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