The views of thousands of international undergraduate students expressed in new research commissioned by the International Unit give the UK the highest satisfaction ratings amongst comparator countries.
These students who studied in the UK and other competitor countries, rated satisfaction with UK higher education very highly at 91%, ahead of the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and New Zealand. International undergraduate student satisfaction is highest with the UK in every area of the learning experience, from overall satisfaction to the arrival experience. Perhaps even more importantly it has also increased in every area of the learning experience from 2008.
The research also contains detailed information on the decision making factors of international students from different countries, and the key influences on those who chose the UK and those who chose to go elsewhere, to help universities in their efforts to internationalise. Decisions about higher education are very different from consumer goods. Young people are investing several years of their lives, and their hopes for their futures. Often their families are investing financially and they are looking for the best experience for their children. These students are our best ambassadors – 85% of international undergraduates who study here would recommend the UK experience to others which is the highest recommendation rate of all of the major English-speaking destinations.
The financial returns and career benefits of a UK higher education to students from other countries are high but the experience can be life changing (I have to declare a personal stake here in that one of my parents met the other when he was a student over here from India).
This international endorsement of the quality of a UK higher education is good news for the UK as well as students and universities. The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement said that “international students are integral to the success of UK universities and the economy. The government is committed to strong growth in students from outside the EU”. The connections with our successful alumni are vital to the UK’s place in the world, as a small trading nation in a global knowledge economy, to our role as a source of ideas and education to address global challenges.
Despite the UK’s improving satisfaction results, some other countries are enjoying faster growth (US universities have just recorded the highest rate of growth in 35 years, a 10% increase to a record high). Robust evidence about the quality of the UK’s higher education, and increased activity to promote it is what we need in the face of dramatically increased competition.