New research carried out by QS with students worldwide explains the growing importance of international study. Although students in different regions have different motivations for studying abroad, they all agree on one aspect – developing global communication skills is key.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that students from developing parts of the world are keen to learn from abroad, graduate from a reputable university and get work experience overseas. However, this is no longer just the pursuit of those from Asia, Latin America and Africa. Students in Europe and the US are equally interested in broadening horizons, becoming part of diverse communities and learning from other cultures. This could be a direct impact of globalisation, given the way businesses are becoming more connected and international, in turn increasing the demand for globally-minded graduates.
Our research, based on ~60 focus groups and over 1,800 survey responses, finds students commonly cite the following three factors when comparing universities abroad:
A government decree in Spain has been promulgated in June 2014 with immediate effect. The traditional entrance exam to access higher education programs after high school – the Selectividad – is now scrapped for foreign students.
The Selectividad consists of exams in four or five areas, in Spanish:
- Foreign language
- History of Spain or History of Philosophy
- Spanish Language and Literature
- Specialty subject
- Other official language
At the moment, international students from several countries were already exempt from this exam, including EU and China students, as long as they took part in their respective end of high school exam in their respective countries (e.g. Gao kao in China, Baccalaureate in France). But for students from the rest of the world, the exam required an excellent knowledge of Spanish language and history, and was definitely a barrier to enrol at Spanish universities.
With this move, Spain is aiming at significantly increasing the number of international students as access will be much easier. In 2012/2013, it was reported Spain had 73,639 international students, representing 4.7% of its total student population. This is much lower in Europe in comparison to several other countries such as the UK with 427,686 foreign students enrolled in 2012, France with 271,399 or Germany with 206,986 according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
The chart above represents the top ten countries sending international students to Spain. As published on the Institute of International Education, this reveals that currently at least 13,129 students (representing at least 17.9% of the total inbound student population) from this top ten hail from Latin America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico) where Spanish in widely spoken. We don’t have access to the full list of countries but clearly Latin America represents a strong provider of overseas students.
As far as Spanish students are concerned, the national Selectividad will be stopped from 2017/2018 and regions will define their own exams.
Students looking for postgraduate courses are considering a wider range of countries than ever before, according to surveys of those attending QS recruitment events all around the world.
As in 2009, the United States and the United Kingdom were, by some distance, the preferred destinations of students at QS World Grad School Tour events in 2013. But both had declined in popularity, while Continental European countries, led by Germany, were options for many more applicants.
QS surveyed more than 4,000 students in 2012-13, compared with almost 3,500 in 2008-9. The questions covered graduate-level study plans, preferred study destinations, priorities when deciding where to study, and future salary and career expectations.
The latest responses showed a shift towards STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, with almost 21 per cent of students seeking courses in these areas, compared with less than 17 per cent previously. But the FAME (finance, accounting, management and economics) group still attracted twice as many of those attending the fairs, despite a decline of 8 percentage points since 2009.
The lure of US universities showed a similar decline – 6.6 percentage points down over the same period – but still almost 60 per cent of students were considering courses there. The drop for UK universities was 8 per cent, but the proportion considering them, at 53.4 per cent, was twice that for Canada, the next most popular destination.
German universities enjoyed the biggest increase in popularity, growth of almost 9 per cent taking the country into fourth place, above Australia. Switzerland, the Netherlands and Sweden also saw substantial increases, although France remained a more popular destination, with 22.7 per cent of attendees considering studying there.
Study costs, financial aid and post-graduation employment prospects are becoming increasingly important factors, the survey showed. But international recognition remains the single most important criterion for those choosing to study abroad.
Those responding to the 2013 survey had high expectations for career development and salaries.
The majority saw themselves in 10 years’ time either running their own business (24 per cent), director of a large company (17 per cent) or a chief executive (15 per cent). Almost 18 per cent were hoping for a salary of more than US$100,000 by then.
The report is intended to assist universities in targeting their recruitment efforts. Interviews carried out during the survey process suggested that many applicants found it difficult to access the information they needed to make their decisions. Universities’ online resources were often perceived as unclear, confusing, incomplete or unreliable.
The complete report can be downloaded here: http://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/qs-guides/trends-International-Student-Mobility-2014
Sir Run Run Shaw, the Hong Kong media mogul died on 7th Jan 2013 at the age of 106. In the 48 hours after the news about his death, there were more than 500 pieces of news in English on the subject, and 3,500 in Chinese. Most western media associated the legacy of Sir Shaw with his success in the entertainment industry, especially his work in introducing Kung Fu movies to the west. But instead of adopting this approach, most of the Chinese media featured detailed discussion of his philanthropic activities in the education sector.
According to the official statement from the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China, Shaw has donated more than $ 4.75 billion HK dollars (370 million GBP) since 1985 to create more than 6013 education projects covering 31 provinces and cities throughout mainland China. This endowment, benefited tens of millions of students from primary school to university. If we also include the figure of his donation to the healthcare in mainland China, it is a staggering total of more than $ 10 billion HK Dollars (785 million GBP)
On 7th January 2013, a picture demonstrated the distribution of Sir Run Run Shaw Buildings around China become a media sensation in mainland China, it is said that a search for his name in Baidu map, the Chinese google, there are more than 30,000 education, hospital and research buildings in mainland China that are named after him. This picture was named by the Chinese netizens as the picture that “Touched the heart of China”. On day after his death, there are more than 2.5 million results of weibo discussion on “The Sir Run Run Shaw Buildings” in Sina Weibo, the Chinese twitter. A current trend is for people to take photos of the lecture halls, and libraries donated by and named after Shaw, where they have spent years studying. The idea is to show their respect to this philanthropist, who is widely considered as PRC’s greatest private contributor to the education sector ever.
What could the rest of the world learn from the role of Sir Run Run Shaw in his philanthropic activities in the education sector?
A search for “Yifu”, the Chinese name of Sir Run Run Shaw in Baidu, there are more than 30,000 results. A picture that is considered “Touched the Heart of China”.
The Sir Run Run Shaw Foundation will only consider fundraising proposal recommended by a selected pool of experts employed by the Ministry of Education in the PRC. Also higher education institutions which submit proposal for endowment are required to commit to fundraise three times the funds donated by the foundation. So once a university submits a proposal to the foundation, it will already have official backup from the municipal or provincial governments who will be committing to finance the rest of the project to make the submission eligible, or alternatively, the institutions themselves will need to finance the rest.
For example, in 1986, Sir Shaw donated HK$110 million to 11 Chinese universities. Each of those 11 Chinese universities either gets another HK$30 million from its municipal or provincial government, or manages to finance the rest itself.
Possible Actions for national policy makers:
- A model, varying in detail from country to country, could be developed between the public and the private sector to establish a joint partnership to finance the country’s education sector;
- Governments, and national organisations for the education sector, might consider a more open-minded and flexible approach to encourage private sector involvement in education endowment.
Universities are widely considered to be the phase of education with the biggest potential returns for individual venture capitalists, investors or entrepreneurs. The majority of fund receiving by the education sector goes to higher education, rather than to schools or further education.
However, further education has played a crucial role in the upgrading of some of society’s most deprived communities. For example, it is a central part of the European Commission’s life-long learning agenda.
In the case of Shaw, 80 per cent of his endowment went to schools, special schools and technical institutions, and only 20 per cent to universities.
Possible Actions for national policies makers:
- HEFCE published a report entitled Philanthropy to UK Universities (the Pearce Report) in 2012. It sets the target of £2 billion a year in charitable gifts to UK universities by 2022. The relevant national bodies could undertake a similar review process to boost schools and further education. . The recommendations of these reviews could be amalgamated to form a coherent UK national strategy for philanthropic endowment in education. Other nations could adopt the same approach.
Please click here to read Part 2 of this article.
London, 20th November, 2013: The interesting thing about the 2nd QS Best Student Cities, for me, someone who was “Made in China” is that: Chinese cities are also named as two of the top 50 cities in the world for students.
The results, released today, see Hong Kong is ranked 7th among all Chinese cities, and the second highest-ranked Asian city. Beijing is named as Mainland China’s top-ranked city at 18th; while Shanghai ranks at 35th.
“Too few UK students currently go overseas, which is why we are investing in this programme. To compete in the global race the UK must create graduates with a global outlook that makes them more attractive to potential employers and benefits the wider economy.” British Universities and Sciences Minister David Willetts has announced on 29th July 2013 the creation of UK Outward Student Mobility Strategy developed by UK Higher Education International Unit aiming to send more UK students abroad. Read more
In the current context of internationalization and increased competition between universities and countries, attracting international students is a major challenge all countries have to take – including France. France has already an excellent potential since it is the 4th country with the most international students, after the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia – and the 1st non-English-speaking country, before Germany. This trend is confirmed by the latest QS World University Rankings. Unsurprisingly, French universities perform the best in the International Students index, with 15 institutions in the top 200 in this indicator. This is opposed to only five French universities in the top 200 for the overall rankings.