Edition 176 - December 2015

United Kingdom: High international students’ satisfaction - cause for celebration?

New research released on 9 December by the UK Higher Education International Unit revealed that international undergraduates studying at UK institutions are overwhelmingly satisfied with their experience. The report, International Undergraduate Students: The UK's Competitive Advantage, is part of a series commissioned to analyse the UK’s standing in the international market for higher education. The findings are based on the data from the International Student Barometer, an online survey conducted by i-Graduate, which collected feedback from 365 754 students enrolled in programmes outside their home countries. The findings are supported by statistics on international student recruitment and enrolment in the UK, as well as an analysis of competitor countries’ policies on recruitment, support and post-study employment.

Overall, 91% of international undergraduate students rate their satisfaction with UK higher education as very high. The study shows student satisfaction in the UK has jumped on 75 of 84 measures, and UK higher education now boasts higher satisfaction ratings than the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand on all dimensions of the student experience: overall satisfaction, learning, living, support and arrival experience. Teaching and learning have emerged as particular strengths of UK higher education in the study, with UK universities outscoring their competitors on 15 of 23 measures of the teaching and learning experience. UK institutions seem to be meeting student expectations, as 85% of students would recommend the UK for undergraduate study, with the UK therefore receiving a higher recommendation rate than any of its English-speaking rival countries. 

On a more sobering note, the study points out that some of the competitors the UK trumps on student satisfaction are in fact enjoying faster growth in the number of international students, despite the number of non-EU international undergraduate students in the UK increasing by 46% since 2007. The US and Canada in particular have increased their market share, recording a 52% and 70% increase in the number of international students over the same period, respectively. Noting that the UK’s competitors are stepping up their game in international higher education, UK Higher Education International Unit Director Vivienne Stern has warned against complacency in light of the favourable findings, calling on the sector to capitalise on its strengths to achieve sustained growth.  

UK Higher Education International Unit

Full report

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