QS International Student Survey: What drives an international student today?

Up-to-date technology is the top priority of international students choosing universities – even superseding the quality of the teaching staff – according to a new survey published by QS.

The 2018 International Student Survey, carried out by QS Enrolment Solutions (formerly Hobsons), is based on the responses of 67,000 students in 63 universities around the world. The published report focuses on the 28,000 who were considering a move to the UK.

Some 65 percent of respondents placed technology among their top five priorities, with 64 percent nominating the quality of teaching staff as their primary concern. The results contrast with those deriving from UK students in a similar survey, who focused more on the results that students achieve upon graduation and future employment rates.

Students were also asked which factors indicated to them that a member of staff would deliver good-quality teaching. By far the most popular answer was they that were passionate about the subject they taught. Real-world experience and positive reviews from students were the next most valuable indicators of teaching competence.

Most respondents made their choice of subject before choosing a country or university, before progressing to choose course, and, finally, a destination of study. Three-quarters were considering five universities or less, with three the most popular total.

A course leading to a particular career was among the top priorities for 74 per cent of respondents, with high-quality teaching again second in the list and affordable fee options third.

Friends or family who had studied abroad were an important influence, the survey found. More than half of all respondents had friends with overseas study experience and the same was true of family members for 21 per cent of the sample.

The cost of living and availability of scholarships were the most common concerns of prospective international students, followed by safety and finding accommodation. Asked what would make them less uneasy, the largest group of respondents chose the ability to ask questions of international students at an institution. This was followed closely by a desire to have friends or family in the country in which they intended to study.

More than 80 per cent of respondents were using social media were using social media as one of their search tools, but the platform varied widely by country. Facebook was by far the most popular, with 56 per cent using it overall, but only 43 per cent used it in the United States and 46 per cent in China, where Weibo was used by 56 per cent of respondents.

Asked how they thought universities would change in the next 10 years, students said they expected most lectures to be online, and that students would be able to get a qualification from any university, regardless of which country it was based in.

 

QS Best Student Cities 2018: Highlights

London has been named as the top location in the world for students, after replacing Montreal at the top of the QS Best Student Cities ranking.

This edition of the ranking placed London top for the first time. It has more ranked institutions than any of the 100 cities in the exercise and performed well in QS’s survey of over 50,000 students.

Perhaps the most dramatic move in the 2018 ranking is Tokyo’s rise from sixth to second place, beating its previous high of 3rd place. It was the city that led our Employer Activity indicator, and, were it in possession of a more diverse student population, may have led the table.

There are six elements to the ranking: the performance of a city’s universities in QS rankings; the proportion of students and their international diversity; quality of life; employer activity; affordability; and the student view of the quality of their experience and willingness to remain in the city after graduating.

Melbourne has moved up to third place, from fifth in 2017, while Zurich has entered the top 10 in eighth place. No US city appears in the top 10, following declines in their scores for affordability, employer activity and student mix: the best American entrant is Boston (13th, down five places). Australia and Germany retain their status as particularly desirable nations, with two top-ten cities each.

Although dropping to fourth place – losing the global ascendancy it enjoyed last year – Montreal remains the students’ favourite, while Toronto is deemed the most desirable city from quality of life surveys and figures for crime and pollution. Budapest is ranked top for affordability, just ahead of Kuala Lumpur.

Other recent surveys have suggested that students’ perception of a university’s location is playing an increasingly important part in the process of choosing where to study. A favourable rating is also important to the cities concerned – a recent study from the Higher Education Policy Institute estimated that international students are worth £4.64 billion a year to London.

London has two universities in the top 10 of the QS World University Rankings and 18 in all. Ben Sowter, who heads the QS Intelligence Unit, which produces the ranking, said: “London benefits from outstanding employment prospects, more world-class universities than any other city, and enviable lifestyle opportunities. These factors mean that it remains a great place to study despite eye-watering costs, as our student survey made clear.”

To qualify for the ranking, cities must have a population of at least 250,000 and contain a minimum of two ranked universities. New entrants to the ranking this year include Stuttgart, Dubai, Cape Town, Graz, Nagoya, Brighton and Miami.

 

 

 

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Brexit and Rising Student Fees: Will International Students Still Be Attracted to Britain?

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Our latest QS report,‘Is Brexit Turning International Students Away From the UK?’, derived from the analysis of interviews which took place in cities across Europe, saw the emergence of several key themes among perceptions of post-Brexit UK as a study destination.  One theme that stood out as particularly contentious was the role of money in higher education. Concerns about finances wound their way through many of our participant’s views, and in many different contexts.

For students, one defining benefit of the UK being part of the EU has been the reciprocal fee agreements between EU member states, which enable EU citizens to study in countries throughout Europe for the same price as domestic students. In the likely event that the UK no longer benefits from these agreements post-Brexit, then students from the EU studying in the UK will start being charged the same amount as international (i.e. non-EU) students, which are normally considerably higher fees. Read more

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What can British Universities do to Reassure International Students That They Are Still Welcome in the UK?

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An uncomfortable truth we uncovered in our latest QS report, ‘Is Brexit Turning International Students Away From the UK?’, was that for some students, the events on the 27th of June 2016 and the press coverage surrounding the EU referendum result all pointed towards a major red flag; Britain is no longer welcoming to immigrants. In turn, this view has fostered a sense amongst some international students that they too are unwelcome in the UK. Students have cited the spike in hate crimes in the UK following the Brexit result to back this up, and some even held the opinion that British people were caught up in a wave of xenophobia.

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Students Reveal Brexit is Likely to Have Uneven Impacts on the UK’s Higher Education System

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Students believe the British higher education system will be ‘downgraded’ following Brexit, with uneven impacts across the sector. During interviews for our Brexit report, many students expressed the view that in a post-Brexit UK, the only universities worth applying to would be the elite, Russell Group institutions. Lower ranked universities, with a less diverse student body and faculty, are likely to lose their appeal. So, whilst universities like Oxbridge, UCL and LSE will maintain their relevance, others which toe the line of such prestige, could be hit hard and are at risk of a significant drop in international applicants. International students contribute greatly to the economy, not only in fees but also through their spending on campus and the local community. Such a prediction could therefore have a detrimental economic impact on universities which do not perform well in the global rankings. Read more

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In with the new and out with old? Or lessons learnt from the past? Remembering and Re-imagining Education

In light of the upcoming Re-imagine Education Awards, the innovative global competition launched last year by QS and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to find the world’s top higher education pedagogical innovation. I started reminiscing about my own university experience, and one particular course came to mind when I looked closely at Hybrid Learning. At QSIU, we are proud to have a team with a diverse skill set, a range of over 12 languages, and have come from various different universities from around the world. Below is an account of a few QSIU team members who share their own memorable experience of past pedagogical methods that have been particularly effective.

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The rise of student debts in the UK of the 2015 graduates following the increased fees

University students graduating from class 2015 are said to have the highest student debts in history according to the recent UK graduate career survey, by High Flyers Research. This is the first cohort of graduates that have had to pay the increased university fees of up to £9000 which has left many of them with average debt of more than £30,000. This is more than a £10,000 increase to the students who graduated in 2012. This figure will be even higher for medics who have to study five years, sometimes six depending on the university, which could potentially leave the students with debts that they can’t pay back or will be paying back for majority of their working life. This figure is lower than the predicted figure of £53,000 than that predicted in 2011 by The Push University Guide[i]. However the UK graduate career survey study also shows that more students are now likely to find jobs than in previous years. [ii]

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Why do students want to study abroad?

Studying abroad is a wonderful, professionally and personally enriching experience. It’s no wonder it’s becoming increasingly popular, with numbers going up from 2 to 4 million students in just the last decade. But what is it students are looking for overseas?

Just in March we interacted with over 500 students from Italy, France, Moscow and UK, with the intention to find out what they value in a university. We were particularly intrigued to see if there’ll be any variation by country.

This is what we found:

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India’s outbound student growth overtakes China for the first time

The first-ever Indian Students Mobility Report 2015, released by M.M Advisory Services reveals a renewed growth in the Indian student market, with student outflows surpassing China for the first time. The new report looks into Indian student mobility trends to the main English-speaking countries – the Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States. These account close to 85% of the total outbound student mobility from India.

China saw a growth rate of 8% in student numbers to the five English-speaking countries between 2013-14, India drew a higher growth rate at 10%. There were over 300,000 students from India in 2014, however this figure still lags behind China’s 650,000 Students. Nonetheless, growth in the Indian market is a welcome change to the slump experienced over the past 4-5 years. The report further estimates the international students market in India is currently valued over $4.5bn, strengthening its position in the student mobility market.

India growth

Source: Indian Students Mobility Report

 

According to the firm, with the exception of the United Kingdom, every other country has seen more students go from India this year than previously. This could perhaps be attributed to the strict visa rules introduced in 2014.

The report, examining trends since 2005, was prepared using statistics and data from government departments in various receiving countries including the US’s Institute of International Education, the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

 

(c) Apple

UK: Watches banned from university exams

Remember when the Google Glass was developed? This was in 2011 and the main idea was to enable users to be connected to the Internet and use a camera with their glasses (although it is currently not developed enough to be available on the market). Last year you probably heard from another IT giant the future launch of the Apple Watch, a new device that will be connected to the Internet and capable of file storage. It is planned to be available on the market from April 2015 with a price starting at $349 (£223 and AU$40).

Last year, the University of London was already discussing about the smart watches potentially becoming a problem in the examination hall from 2015 and beyond, as academics were worried about cheating.

As a precautionary measure, several UK universities have now issued a ban for students during exams to wear a wrist watch, not only smart watches by any watches. It can now be read in City University London’s website: “Due to the introduction of smart watches, candidates are no longer permitted to wear any kind of wrist watch in an examination venue. Please ensure that your wrist watch is placed in your bag before the start of the examination. Anyone found wearing a wrist watch in the examination venue will be asked to remove it and to place it on the floor under their desk.” Are they right to do so? Of course, mobile phones and tablets are already forbidden during exams so why not watches too. An old wall clock will always be reliable.

This precautionary measure has generated some interest in the higher education news in the last few days as students will be ask to remove all wristwatches before taking an exam in selected universities. UK is not the only country taking measures to avoid cheating during examinations, for instance it can be read on Nanyang Technological University’s website that smart watches should not be brought in the examination hall.