Choosing where to study is no easy decision, especially when your options span the whole world.
But student satisfaction data from the International Student Barometer reveal the comparative advantages and disadvantages between studying in the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US.
Reports by the International Unit show that international postgraduate students on taught degrees in the UK, along with those in Canada and the US, are generally more satisfied with the learning experience than students on similar degrees in Australia or New Zealand.
However, both Australia and New Zealand have better levels of student satisfaction with the learning environment for international postgraduates on research degrees than for those on taught degrees.
If the expertise of research supervisors is a priority, Australia and New Zealand might be more attractive choices than the US or Canada, which scored lower for this specific measure of research student satisfaction.
But if you’re after careers advice, work experience and employability skills, there’s no particular reason to choose one country over another because all five countries show disappointing satisfaction levels with the professional development opportunities.
Postgraduate researchers in the US are significantly more satisfied with their opportunities to teach than those anywhere else, reflecting the nature of research programmes there, where more emphasis is often placed on teaching classes.
The only element of the learning experience for which the UK rates highest is the multicultural environment – important for encouraging a range of perspectives and cross-cultural relationships.
Strikingly, international students report low satisfaction levels with accommodation costs, the ability to earn money, financial support and living costs across all countries. In these areas, research students in the US are marginally more satisfied, although the scores are still low.
On the other hand, the US is perceived to be the least safe country, according to the satisfaction scores for safety, while Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand all boast high safety satisfaction levels.
The satisfaction with social activities also varies for the different countries, with the US and the UK coming out top, and New Zealand and Australia lagging behind. Both research and taught students in the UK are far more satisfied with UK culture than students elsewhere.
Whatever your priorities, each country has its own unique appeal and, ultimately, international students in all five countries award their host country relatively high satisfaction scores for being “a good place to be”.