Overseas students ‘turned off UK universities by Brexit’

41 per cent of prospective students less likely to come here post-referendum, survey suggests

July 29, 2016
Male student looking at airport departures board
Source: iStock

Concerns about xenophobia and tighter immigration controls post-Brexit are set to trigger a slump in UK universities’ international student recruitment, a poll has suggested.

A survey of 1,014 overseas students conducted by the student recruitment and retention solutions company Hobsons found that 34 per cent of the 875 who were not already registered at a UK university said that they were less likely to do so in future because of the vote to leave the European Union.

A further 7 per cent of respondents, drawn from the EU and further afield, said that they would definitely not come to the UK in light of the referendum result.

Among students who said they would not or were less likely to study in the UK, 59 per cent attributed this to a feeling that the UK was now a less welcoming place for international students, while 56 per cent felt that it would be harder to get a visa. Poorer post-study work options were also a major concern.

However, 51 per cent of all respondents who were not already registered at a UK university said that Brexit would make no difference to their decision to come to the country.

And a small proportion – about 8 per cent – felt that they were more likely to study in the UK, or would definitely do so, because of the referendum result.

Of these, 52 per cent felt that the UK was now more welcoming to international students, perhaps reflecting how 87 per cent of survey respondents were from non-EU countries. The weaker pound making a UK degree less expensive was cited by 43 per cent.

Jeremy Cooper, managing director of Hobsons EMEA, said that UK universities needed to respond strongly to an inevitable “period of uncertainty”.

“International students still represent a significant strategic opportunity for UK universities,” Mr Cooper said. “Market conditions for international student recruitment look set to toughen, and universities need to send a clear message that the UK welcomes international students, as well as providing practical guidance and support.”

Respondents were also asked which countries might be more or less attractive to them as study destinations in light of Brexit, with anglophone countries – Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand – being the major beneficiaries. Germany, France and Italy were also looked on more favourably.

Interestingly, China, Malaysia and Hong Kong were viewed as being less attractive post-Brexit, suggesting that the weaker pound may be particularly attractive to students from these countries.

chris.havergal@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree
A group of flamingos and a Marabou stork

A right-wing philosopher in Texas tells John Gill how a minority of students can shut down debates and intimidate lecturers – and why he backs Trump

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy