Nine in 10 international postgraduate students in the UK are satisfied with their higher education, but major competitor nations are “taking advantage of the UK’s perceived weaknesses” in visa processing, post-study work opportunities and financial support, according to two reports.
Research from the UK Higher Education International Unit found that 90 per cent of overseas research postgraduates in the UK are satisfied with their education and 85 per cent would recommend their experience to someone else, beating Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US on both measures.
Satisfaction levels for overseas taught postgraduates in the UK are just behind at 89 per cent, the same figure as last year, ahead of Australia and New Zealand but behind North America. However, a higher proportion of international taught postgraduates in the UK (86 per cent) would recommend their experience than those in the other nations.
However, despite strong overall figures for the UK, the country is deteriorating on several areas of living experience, according to the two reports, International Taught Postgraduate Students: The UK’s Competitive Advantage and International Postgraduate Research Students: The UK’s Competitive Advantage.
Only half of taught postgraduates in the country are satisfied with their experience of earning money (51 per cent compared with 61 per cent in 2008), and financial support (52 per cent compared with 64 per cent in 2008), while less than three-fifths are happy with their accommodation costs (58 per cent compared with 60 per cent in 2008).
Despite the fact that there are also generally low levels of satisfaction around these financial indicators in competitor nations, the report on taught postgraduates notes that there has been “some liberalising in the opportunities for graduates to obtain work visas post-study in most competitor nations, in order to make postgraduate study more attractive”. It cited Australia implementing a streamlined visa application process in 2012 and introducing post-study work arrangements for international students in 2013 as one example.
“Inevitably, this growing differential in post-study opportunities will put UK universities at a competitive disadvantage in attempting to recruit the best of the international student pool,” it stated.