UK ‘beats competitors’ for international student satisfaction

Overseas students in UK are more likely to recommend studying in the country than those in other nations

June 24, 2017
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International students in the UK have higher levels of satisfaction than their counterparts in other major global destinations, according to a new study.

Research from Universities UK International shows that 86 per cent of international undergraduate students in the UK are very likely to recommend their destination of study, up three percentage points since 2008.

This increases to 87 per cent (up from 83 per cent) for postgraduate taught students and drops to 85 per cent (up from 80 per cent) for postgraduate research students.

These figures are higher than the proportion of undergraduate and postgraduate overseas students that would recommend the US, Canada, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands.

The study, The UK’s competitive advantage, was based on a survey of 137,000 international students in the six countries, collected from i-graduate’s International Student Barometer.

The UK is also number one for student satisfaction, with 91 per cent of overseas students across all levels of study reporting that they are satisfied with their experience in the country.

It also comes top at the undergraduate level across four other measures of student experience: learning environment, arrival and orientation, living, and support services.

However, the US comes top for arrival and orientation and the learning environment among postgraduate taught students, achieving a score of 3.13 and 3.10 out of 4 respectively (compared with 3.07 for both in the UK).

The report also found that social media is the fastest growing influence for international students deciding where to study, but it is still low down on the list of factors; 14 per cent of undergraduate students and 11 per cent of postgraduates said that they used a social networking site, up from 8 per cent and 6 per cent respectively in 2012.

The importance of league tables is also on the rise, selected by 32 per cent of undergraduate students (up 3 per cent since 2012).

Overall, the top factor influencing students’ choice of study is the university’s website, selected by 37 per cent of respondents, closely followed by family (36 per cent).

The reputation of the university is the most important factor in international students’ decision to choose the UK at undergraduate and postgraduate taught levels (chosen by 93 per cent and 95 per cent respectively), while the quality of research was the main sway for postgraduate research students choosing the UK.

ellie.bothwell@timeshighereducation.com

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