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.


HE News Brief 30.1.12

by Abby Chau


  • SOUTH KOREA: A third of universities have announced the intention of dropping tuition fees by at least 5%
  • SAUDI ARABIA: The government has announced that it hopes to have 50,000 graduates from the world’s top 500 universities by 2020
  • UK: Application rates projected to fall by 10% for the autumn 2012 term amidst tuition fee hikes and budget cuts
  • GERMANY: A different take on foreign students?

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HE News Brief 5.10.10

by Abby Chau

  • Higher Education institutions in Costa Rica lived in harmony with the government for years, with hardly a dispute regarding budgets, an issue that vex many public sector relationships. But as the demand for higher education has increased as well as escalating costs, the once friendly relationship is beginning to unravel. HE leaders say they need a 8 percent rise in their budgets in order to ensure quality as well as to accommodate the growing demand. Some say that education in general, with only a 73% high school enrolment rate (which falls below El Salvador and Panama), has been deteriorating and needs immediate attention. The argument also extends to private vs. public HE institutions and whether the former can adequately address these crucial problems.
    Full Story: Tico Times
  • In 1950, according to the Chinese Ministry of Education, there were 20 international students studying in China – and they were all from the Soviet Union. In 2009, this has grown to 240,000 foreign students with representatives from 190 countries. However, the MOE also admits that most of the 240,000 foreign students are from Asia.The MOE has just released a plan to augment this figure to 500,000 by 2020 by administrating more English language courses, increasing the availability of scholarships, and easing visa applications. They hope to spread their reach and with mutual degree recognition agreements with 34 countries, China seems poised to extend their influence.
    Full Story: The Independent
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