THEY are considered to be the most eminent brains in the world, honoured for their achievements in work from science and literature to peace. But a new study has revealed that more than a third of Nobel Prize winners who studied abroad were educated at British universities.
BFifty international student winners of the coveted award have been educated at UK universities, including Oxford and Cambridge - more than any other country.
It’s thrilling to imagine what they will go on to achieve and which of them could be future Nobel LaureatesDr Jo Beal
The study said that a Scottish university had played a part in educating the most recent Nobel Prize winner who studied in Britain.
The British Council report, which comes in the week the Nobel Institute announces the award winners for 2015, found that more Laureates who studied abroad chose to do so at Oxford, Cambridge and other UK universities such as Edinburgh University than their American and German counterparts.
Since the prize began in 1901, 860 individuals have received the award. Of those, 131 studied overseas for part of their education - 38 per cent did so in Britain.
Randy Schekman, the British university system’s most recent Nobel Prize winner, spent the third year of his undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh before graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1971.
The American cell biologist won the 2013 prize for physiology of medicine.
The report said that there are currently almost 500,000 international students at UK universities. Dr Jo Beall, British Council director of education and society, said that the attraction for students looking abroad is down to the Britain’s “global reputation for excellence”.
Dr Beall added: “The British Council celebrates UK alumni and, without question, Nobel Laureates have changed the world.
“Their journeys would have begun with their studies at university, so it’s wonderful to discover that, for Nobel Laureates who went abroad to pursue their education, more studied in the UK than anywhere else.”
On the students arriving at universities across Britain now, Ms Beall said: “It’s thrilling to imagine what they will go on to achieve and which of them could be future Nobel Laureates, with their experience here as a springboard to that.”
Home Secretary Theresa May has been accused of taking a hard line with international students.
In July she called for universities to develop sustainable funding models that are not so dependent on them and also backed a proposal to make those on student visas return home immediately after graduating - they are currently given four months to find work.
Principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, said: “This research by the British Council affirms the transformative effect that learning in other countries and cultures has - and it is our ambition to offer all our students an international learning experience.”
Eighteen of the international students who won the awards studied at Cambridge, 11 went to Oxford and five went to the London School of Economics.