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UK universities lead the global pack for international student satisfaction

21 June 2017

​The UK remains one of the world's leading study destinations for international students because of the first-class experience offered by universities shows our new report. The UK's competitive advantage 2017  is based on the results of the world's largest survey of international students – i-graduate’s International Student Barometer (ISB).

Findings at a glance:

  • International students are more likely to recommend the UK than any other leading English-language study destination. The UK ranks 1st compared to the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and the Netherlands for recommendation from international students – this is true at all levels of study* (undergraduate (UG), postgraduate taught (PGT), postgraduate research (PGR)).
  • International student satisfaction in the UK overall is higher than in any other of these countries, again at every level*. Satisfaction is particularly high among international UG students in the UK (92%), and this is increasing year-on-year.
  • The UK ranks 1st among its competitors for international students' overall satisfaction with support services and overall living experience at their UK university.
  • The reputation of the institution is the most important factor in international students' decision to choose the UK at the UG and PGT level (93% and 95% respectively).  For PGR students, the most important factor is the research quality (97%).
  • 14% of international UG students used a social networking site to help them choose where to study. This has grown from 8% in 2012.

The UK's competitive advantage 2017 is based on data collected from over 137,000 respondents.Social media is fastest growing influence on the international student journey:

The report examines the influencing factors for prospective international students in their choice of study destination. For UG and PGT students, the reputation and quality of institutions are key factors influencing the decision to study in the UK. PGR students cited the quality of the research at their chosen institution as the most important factor.

There has been an overall growth of 6% in the proportion of international UG students using social media to help them choose where to study since 2012. However, this varies considerably according to location. Prospective students in Vietnam (26%) were most likely to use social media, followed by those in Poland (21%) and Bulgaria (20%). At the other end of the spectrum only 5% of those in South Korea used social media to inform their decision.

The biggest influencers on international UG choice were an institution's website (37%), family (36%) and friends (33%).

This is the second iteration of The UK's competitive advantage report which echoes previous findings that the UK is ranked first for recommendation by international students. The ISB has collected data from over 3 million students in over 1,400 institutions across 33 countries since its inception.

Commenting on the report, Director of UUKi, Vivienne Stern, said:

"This study highlights the UK's strength in the student experience, at every level, and across a wide range of measures: from the quality of teaching and the learning experience, through to the warmth of welcome received. International students are an important part of university communities and bring diversity to the student experience. They provide a global perspective for home students and university staff and add to the quality of the overall university experience. It's great to hear that UK universities are consistently providing international students with a world-class study experience. However, we mustn't become complacent. This is a time of great change in the UK and universities must make sure that the student experience, for both international and home students, remains central to their strategies."

Key Contacts

Jo Hindle

Jo Hindle

Head of Media
Universities UK

Luke Lambert

Luke Lambert

Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK

Clara Plackett

Clara Plackett

Senior Press and Social Media Officer
Universities UK


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