Skip to content

UK’s Brightest Students Opt For US Ivy League Scholarships Over High Tuition Fees

Two East London students choose MIT's fully funded scholarship of £250,000 over Oxford and Cambridge

Britain is losing its brightest students to the US because they can’t afford the tuition fees.

Two East London students turned down Oxford and Cambridge and their £45,000 ($60,000 USD) fees for scholarships at Ivy League Universities in the US.

Former Newham Collegiate Sixth Form students Mohammed Isuf Ahmed and Tafsia Shikdar both had offers from top universities in the UK, but opted for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) instead.

The Boston-based university offered a fully funded scholarship which included tuition, accommodation and expenses worth over £250,000 ($322,000).

If either had attended Oxford or Cambridge they would be in debt of up to £45,000 ($60,000) debt for tuition fees alone.

Both are from low-income families so would most likely have had to borrow more to pay for the accommodation and living costs.

In fact, bright UK students are more likely to get funding in the US than they are here.

A general view of the Ivy League logo at center court prior to the college basketball game between Penn Quakers and Harvard Crimson on March 16, 2019, at John J. Lee Amphitheater in New Haven, CT. Fully funded scholarships, even for those from the most deprived backgrounds, are virtually non-existent in the UK.In fact, bright UK students are more likely to get funding in the US than they are here. PHOTO BY M. ANTHONY NESMITH/GETTY IMAGES 

Both students are back in the UK to see their family and are currently working at their former sixth form.

Mohammed, 22, who studied physics and aerospace engineering said: “It is ludicrous that a British student can get more support at an Ivy League university than at one in the UK.

It is a sentiment echoed by Tafsia. She added: “I could have gone to Oxford or Cambridge but MIT offered to pay my tuition. It was a no-brainer in the end.”

The pair are running computer science courses at their old sixth form, Newham Collegiate Sixth Form.

Tafsia, 23, who studied engineering, said: “I am back seeing family and when the chance to work at the NCS came up I grabbed it with both hands.

Anita Lomax, NCS headteacher, said: “We are very fortunate to have two MIT graduates working in our sixth form.

Mohammed is weighing up career offers in America in computer science.

Tafsia said: “After working in the US for the last few years, I have decided to move back closer to my family.

Tafsia’s dad is an IT support worker and her mom is a school lunchtime supervisor.

Mohammed’s mom came to the UK from Bangladesh in 1998 and works as an optician’s receptionist.

Mohammed said: “I hope it inspires more East End kids, who might think they’ll just never get into these places, to apply.”


Produced in association with SWNS Talker

“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”

Get news, handpicked just for you, in your box.

Check out our free email newsletters

Recommended from our partners