AN AUSTRALIAN survey of students in six Asian countries has found that they rank universities in the United Kingdom highest in terms of course standards and recognition of qualifications, writes Geoff Maslen.
Students also rated the UK the safest destination, along with Australia, although it and the United States were thought to be expensive compared with Canada and Australia.
Of the four countries about which students from Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan were questioned, Australia and Canada were perceived as the least racist.
The survey report says that 750,000 students worldwide have gone abroad to study through the English language, more than half from Asia.
While the US is the main host country, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand now also enrol significant numbers of foreign students.
The research was carried out by Meredith Lawley, a senior lecturer in business at the University of Southern Queensland, and Denis Blight, chief executive of IDP Education Australia, the overseas marketing arm of the Australian Vice Chancellors' Committee.
An IDP-sponsored study by Curtin University researchers was also conducted in Indonesia and Taiwan where students were asked to rank factors influencing their choice of a study destination.
Dr Lawley interviewed students from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand and India in their own countries. Almost all were planning to go abroad to study.
The study found that students did not differentiate between course and country characteristics. These combined characteristics were the most important predictor of intention, whereas administrative processes (such as getting a visa and enrolling) and costs did not contribute significantly.
The survey was before the recent currency crisis hit several Asian states.