Why do students go to university and how do they choose which one?

Survey of more than 60,000 students reveals what students look for when selecting a university

June 6 2017
students use laptops

High-quality teaching and the availability of scholarships were two of the most important factors that students looked at when choosing a university, according to this year’s International Student Survey.

Carried out by educational consultants Hobsons, it questioned 62,366 students from 65 universities around the world. Of these, 27,955 students were considering studying in the UK. 

Students were asked a variety of questions about higher education including which factors were most likely to influence their choice of university, and why they chose to go to college in the first place.

What five things are most important to you when choosing a university? 

Five things students look for when choosing a university

Students had to rank the above list in order of importance when choosing a university. The two reasons rated most important were high-quality teaching (30.0 per cent) and whether universities offered scholarships (29.9 per cent). 

The position of a university within rankings came third, with 23.5 per cent of students stating that this was the most important factor. 

Something that appeared to have the least importance to prospective students was the opportunity to make friends with people from different countries, with just 10.3 per cent of students stating this as their number one reason for choosing a university. 

What are/were your most important reasons for going to university? 

What are/were your most important reasons for going to university?

Students were given a list of factors and had to list their top three reasons for going to university. The top reason was revealed as being passionate about their subject, with the continuation of learning and development coming in a close second.

Just over 9 per cent of respondents stated that they wanted to go to university because everyone around them went to university, indicating that many students wanted to go to university of their own accord rather than because of peer influence. 

Which factors indicate to you that a university provides good-quality teaching?

What factors indicate good teaching.

Nearly 70 per cent of students strongly agree that having highly qualified teaching staff indicates that a university provides good-quality teaching. Respondents felt less strongly that high graduate starting salaries were an indicator of good-quality teaching (31 per cent) compared with those ranking a high graduate employment rate as a key indicator of good teaching (52 per cent). 

Less than 50 per cent strongly agree that if a university is ranked well, it provides high-quality teaching. 

More on our analysis of the International Student Survey 2017: How international students use social media to choose a UK university

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