The lack of work opportunities after studying is the main factor dissuading prospective international students from applying to or accepting a place at a UK university, according to a survey.
Nearly a third (32 per cent) of prospective overseas students who enquired about applying to a UK university, or who had applied, chose to study in a different country, with the highest proportion (36 per cent) of these students citing post-study work options as the main reason for rejecting the UK.
This was closely followed by the job prospects in their destination country (31 per cent), the ability to get permanent residency in the destination country after studying (29 per cent), the job prospects in their home country post-study (24 per cent), and the ability to work while studying (23 per cent), according to a survey of 17,336 prospective international students from 210 countries by Hobsons, which helps universities to recruit and retain students.
The main non-work related factor for students who chose not to study in the UK was the country’s attitude to international students (22.5 per cent).
Overall, the four main criteria that prospective international students cited as an influence when choosing one country over another were: the international recognition of qualifications (52 per cent), quality of education compared with their home country (51 per cent), availability of scholarships (43 per cent) and the ability to work while studying (28 per cent).
The International Student Survey 2015 reveals that of those students who considered studying in the UK but chose to go elsewhere, just 5 per cent chose to study in their home country, 3 per cent decided not to study at all and 27 per cent chose another country altogether. Of those in the latter group, the highest proportion (28 per cent) picked a university in the United States, followed by Canada and Germany (both 11 per cent).
The students were also asked how often they want to be contacted by institutions during all stages of the application cycle including after the initial enquiry, after submitting an application, after receiving an offer and once they have started at the institution. At each stage, the highest proportion of students (between 40 per cent and 53 per cent) said that they would prefer weekly communication from universities.
Overall, 35 per cent of those considering the UK as a university destination said that they planned to use an education agent during their enrolment process. However, the results differed widely across different countries, with 49 per cent of students from Malaysia, 47 per cent from China and 45 per cent from Hong Kong stating that they planned to use an agent, compared with just 21 per cent from Canada and 24 per cent from the US.
Among those students who used an agent, 33 per cent said that they contacted their agent after deciding to study abroad, 18 per cent after they had chosen an institution and 16 per cent after they had selected a course or country. Only 1 per cent of respondents said that an agent was the primary influence on their decision to study in a particular country.