Some 87 per cent of applicants to higher education believe international students will give them a better worldview and 85 per cent say they provide a useful preparation for working in a global environment, according to the poll of 500 Ucas applicants by YouthSight.
However, the survey commissioned by the Higher Education Policy Institute and Kaplan, which runs pathway colleges for international students hoping to enter UK universities, also reveals concerns over international students.
Some 29 per cent of respondents say international students could slow down a class and the same proportion think that international students require more attention from teaching staff.
However, 42 per cent believe foreign students would not slow down classes and 39 per cent do not think they demand more attention from teachers than domestic students.
Only 11 per cent say the presence of international students could lead to lower quality academic discussions, as opposed to 67 per cent who disagree.
Nick Hillman, Hepi’s director, said the poll underlines the positive impact of international students on university life, and shows that applicants are keen to participate in a global teaching environment.
“Today’s students see themselves as tomorrow’s global citizens,” said Mr Hillman.
He urged the Home Office to undertake a full review of the costs and benefits of international students – both economic and educational – with a view to removing students from the target for reducing net migration.
Other government departments, including education and business, should also be given a say in setting migration policy given the crucial role of international students, he added.
“They understand the educational and soft power benefits that come from educating people from across the world and could provide a counterweight to the Home Office’s different priorities,” he said.
Linda Cowan, managing director of Kaplan International Colleges, said the survey shows that domestic students about to begin their university studies “already anticipate benefits of studying alongside students from other countries”.