Course quality main UK draw for US postgraduates

Academic tutors are most likely to motivate American postgraduates to come to UK, says study

February 15, 2017
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The quality and reputation of a degree is the most important factor influencing the decision of American students to come to the UK for postgraduate study, while academic staff are more important motivators than family members, according to research from the British Council.

The survey of 236 American postgraduate students who are studying in the UK found that 51 per cent chose to study in the UK due to the quality and reputation of their course, while 48 per cent were drawn by the length of time to complete the degree (which is typically shorter than in other countries), and 45 per cent were motivated by the reputation of UK universities generally.

When asked what factors positively motivated them to study their postgraduate degree in the UK (with participants being able to select as many of the 13 answers as they like), family members came out top, being selected by 60 per cent of respondents, closely followed by friends, including fellow students (59 per cent).

However, when asked to select the one factor that most positively motivated their decision, the highest proportion (21 per cent) said academic tutors, lecturers or professors. Studying abroad (18 per cent) and obtaining funding (17 per cent) were the next most influential factors, according to the report Student Insight: US Postgraduate Pathways to the UK.

Six in 10 of the respondents said that they had applied to universities only in the UK, while 30 per cent said that they obtained a place at a university in another country but still chose to come to the UK.

When making their final decision about choosing a university, the highest proportion said that institution rank or prestige was most useful (56 per cent), followed by academic staff biographies and interests (43 per cent) and the availability of funding (33 per cent).

However, when asked about the most helpful sources of information during the entire decision-making process, an overwhelming majority said that university websites (89 per cent), followed by searches on Google (45 per cent), recommendations from their tutor during a previous degree (38 per cent), and conversations with faculty staff at the universities that they had applied to (38 per cent).

When asked about the information they received from institutions, 69 per cent of students said that it was helpful receiving information about relevant visa requirements and applications but more than two-fifths said that they would have liked to have received more specific detail about the course (45 per cent), information on what to do after they graduate (43 per cent) and information about the employment rate or successes of recent master’s or doctoral graduates (see below).

Information received from institutions

British Council

The majority of the students (70 per cent) said that they plan to return to the US to work or study after their degree, but just over half said that they would look for employment in the UK.

The US sent the third highest number of international students to the UK for postgraduate study in 2015-16 (11,015 students), after China and India.

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