Students should consider swapping baked beans in Birmingham for beach life in Tel Aviv – because undergraduate degrees at the city's university are cheaper than the UK, claims Tel Aviv University.
Jewish school-leavers, hit by the £9,000 tuition fees next year at most of the top-tier British universities, could pay around £2,000 less if they choose to study in Israel.
Tel Aviv will launch two programmes in English for undergraduates in September 2012, a three-year humanities BA costing £7,011 and a four-year electrical and electronics engineering BSc, costing £7,968.
"It's something we've only just begun promoting," said Cara Case, executive director of TAU Trust UK. "We had such high interest at the London Israel Expo - so many people were enquiring about whether their son or daughter could do a full degree with us."
Tel Aviv University is 166th in the world rankings, which makes it between 10 and 20 places below popular UK universities like Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham and Warwick, and higher than Liverpool and Cardiff. Ms Case said: "It is tough to get in; you can't just pay and get a place. We expect high academic standards."
Other courses in Israel are also competitively priced. At IDC Herzliya, students can study business administration, government, communications or psychology in English for £6,668 a year. At Bar-Ilan, a BA in social sciences, taught in English, costs £4,784 a year. At the prestigious Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa, students can do a BSc in civil engineering in English for £10,205 a year – which includes campus accommodation.
But students beginning this September at UK universities will not have to pay fees upfront, and will receive a student loan – to which British students in Israel are not entitled.
Despite last summer's protests about the cost of living in Israel, student accommodation in Tel Aviv is cheaper than many British universities, with dorm accommodation costing £2,800 a year. At Nottingham, one of the most popular universities for Jewish students, a self-catering shared flat is £4,191 a year.
A spokesman for TAU estimated books, food and travel in Israel would cost around the same as in the UK - £2,850 a year. The maximum student maintenance loans in the UK for students away from home at a non-London university are around £5,500 a year.