More overseas graduates say post-degree activity ‘not meaningful’

The proportion of non-EU graduates of UK universities who said their current activity was not meaningful has doubled in recent years

June 13, 2024
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International students are becoming increasingly dissatisfied after graduating from UK institutions, a new survey suggests.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) graduate outcomes data surveyed almost 400,000 graduates of the 2021-22 academic year on their activities 15 months after graduation.

The latest release shows little change among the views of UK full-time higher education graduates, with 8 per cent disagreeing or strongly disagreeing that their current activity was meaningful – unchanged from the 2020-21 cohort and the same as in 2017-18.

The same proportion of European Union graduates said they felt the same way, but non-EU students have seen an uptick in dissatisfaction.

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Of the 2021-22 class, 12 per cent said their current activity was not meaningful – up from 9 per cent the year before and double the proportion in 2017-18.

Other questions asked of graduates showed similar differences in opinion. The proportion of UK graduates who said they were not using what they learnt during their studies (22 per cent) rose slightly in recent years, as did the percentage who said their current activity did not fit with their future plans (15 per cent).

But almost a fifth (19 per cent) of non-EU graduates said they were not using what they learnt during their studies – up from just 12 per cent four years previously. And 17 per cent said their current activity did not fit with future plans, which was more than double the proportion of 2017-18.

The figures suggested that non-EU postgraduates were more likely to voice dissatisfaction than undergraduate students. International graduates answer the survey by email, so some will still be in the UK and some overseas.

The results of the fifth iteration of the major Hesa survey show a continuation of the downturn in mood seen among international graduates last year.

However, the figures contrast with a separate release from the Higher Education Policy Institute, which found that international students are increasingly satisfied with UK courses and appear largely unperturbed by higher tuition fees.

The Hesa release showed that international students at two-thirds of UK higher education providers were less likely to see their current activity as meaningful compared with the year before.

Just 63 per cent of non-UK graduates at York St John University agreed with the question on meaningfulness – followed by 64 per cent at the University for the Creative Arts and 65 per cent at Norwich University of the Arts.

In contrast, 93 per cent at the Royal Veterinary College said their current situation was meaningful.

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Reader's comments (1)

I believe UK Universities are admired the world over. The flavor of UK education could however, be dampened by high international tuition fees. Dwindling economic fortunes around the world could pose more challenges.