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The UK's competitive advantage

29 February 2016


New reports show the exceptional quality of the UK's university experience as rated by international students.

The UK is number one for international student recommendation at both taught postgraduate and postgraduate research level, two reports from the UK Higher Education International Unit reveal. The UK's primary competitive advantage rests on the quality of its universities and what they offer.

The UK Competitive Advantage: International Postgraduate Taught Students and The UK Competitive Advantage: International Research Students reports form one of the most extensive ever studies of the international student experience. Drawing on data derived from 365,754 international students from 800 universities across the globe, including over 100 UK universities, using i-graduate's International Student Barometer (ISB) key findings include:

Postgraduate Taught (PGT)

  • International PGT student satisfaction is high at 89%
  • 86% of students would recommend the UK, the highest rate of comparator countries, and up by 4% since 2007-8.
  • International students comprised approximately 30% of all students studying in PGT UK programmes

Postgraduate Research (PGR)

  • 85% of research students in the UK recommend their experience.( five percentage points increase since 2008) higher than those achieved in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

  • In 2014-15 90% of international PGR students were satisfied with their education in the UK.

  • Compared against its primary rivals the UK has the highest satisfaction ratings for the research student experience rated #1 for the majority of indicators, including course content, expert supervisors and research.

Combined with The UK Competitive Advantage: Undergraduate students, this research shows that the UK is the most recommended major English-speaking higher education destination in the world by international students, and hasimproved satisfaction across all aspects of the learning experience. This is true at every level of study.

Vivienne Stern, Director, UK HE International Unit commented:

"The responses of international PGT students studying in the UK clearly indicate the top decision-making factors are institutional reputation, the specific course of study and the quality of research. However, in today's highly contested and transforming international educational environment, the UK must act strategically to maintain its comparative advantages and sustain growth."

The UKHEI commissioned three reports to systematically examine the UK's market position with respect to international student recruitment and the international student experience. A companion report that looked at undergraduate students was released in December 2015.

Reports:

Notes to Editors​

About Universities UK International

Universities UK International represents UK universities globally and helps them meet their international aims. We do this by actively promoting our universities abroad, providing trusted information for and about them, and create new opportunities through our ability to act at sector level. We draw on UK university expertise to influence policy in the UK and overseas, to deliver information, advice and guidance to enable collaboration with the broadest possible range of international partners for mutual benefit. 

About the ISB

The ISB is an independent survey process implemented by 800 higher education providers worldwide, including more than 100 universities in the UK. It is supported by statistics on international student recruitment and enrolment in the UK and major competitor countries, as well as a high-level analysis of key competitors' government policies on recruitment, support and post-study employment.​

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