International student survey finds UK is top choice

International unit logoACCORDING to a recent study published towards the end of 2015, international undergraduate students in the UK are more likely to recommend their experience than those in other major English-speaking countries.

The study was undertaken by the UK Higher Education International Unit, and its findings were published in International Undergraduate Students: The UK’s Competitive Advantage. The findings are based on feedback from 367, 754 international students studying outside of their home country.

The study found that 85% of international undergraduates studying in the UK would recommend, or do recommend, the experience to others. The UK also scored 91% for student satisfaction, making it number one for student satisfaction and indicating an improvement on 90% in 2008.

Additionally, universities across the country have seen improvements across 75 of the 84 measures ranked. However, in a recurring trend since 2011 the UK has seen declining levels of student satisfaction when it comes to the availability of financial support. Competitor nations have also seen a faster level of growth in terms of student satisfaction overall.

UK HE International Unit director Vivienne Stern said:

“While the UK’s improving results and higher satisfaction with the cost of living than main alternative countries suggest we are heading in the right direction, we cannot remain complacent. Other countries are increasing their efforts to attract international students and are enjoying faster growth. The UK must jointly capitalise on its obvious strengths in order to drive sustained growth for this critical component of the UK’s higher education system and its broader economy.”

During their first year of study in the UK 11,362 international undergraduate said that the main factors in deciding to study in the UK included: the reputation of the institution; the specific course of study; earning potential; and personal safety. The cost of study, cost of living and opportunities factored less into their initial decisions but became more significant to international students throughout the duration of their studies.

The report also found that for one fifth of the international students in the UK it was the only country they had considered. The primary alternative countries considered by international students for university included: the US (44%), Australia (24%), and Canada (19%).

The study found a significant fall in the perceived attractiveness of the UK as a study destination among education advisers and agents – the opposite trend is occurring for competitors like the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The report recommends that UK universities introduce more competitive policies concerning student visas and work rights in order to increase the attractiveness of the UK to advisers.