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What do international students think of UK after Brexit?

Hobsons survey finds many students now less likely to study in UK but weaker pound makes UK more attractive for some

Posted by Hannah Oakman | August 04, 2016 | International

Hobsons, which launched its survey of almost 44,000 prospective international students earlier this year, have conducted some additional research as part of the UK report following the UK’s decisions to leave the EU. The research, which surveyed over 1,000 prospective international students found that Brexit has affected nearly half of those considering to study in the UK, of which 83% say Brexit has now made them less likely to study in the UK (more than a third overall).

43% of prospective international students feel that Brexit has affected their decision to study in the UK

The survey found that:

▪   43% of prospective international students feel that Brexit has affected their decision to study in the UK.

▪   Of these students, 83% say it has made them less likely to study in the UK.

▪   However, 61% of all those surveyed suggested that the weaker pound made UK higher education more attractive and many students made suggestions of what UK universities could do to make studying in the UK a more attractive proposition.

Jeremy Cooper, Managing Director of Hobsons EMEA, (below) said: “In the wake of Brexit, the UK higher education sector faces a period of uncertainty. However, international students still represent a significant strategic opportunity for UK universities. Market conditions for international student recruitment look set to toughen, and universities need to send a clear message that the UK welcomes international students, as well as providing practical guidance and support.”

For the cohort of people who felt that Brexit made it less likely that they would study in the UK, the most common reason was that the UK seemed less welcoming as a result of Brexit, a factor for 59% of respondents.

Asking all the survey respondents whether they thought a weaker Pound made the UK more attractive to them, 61% answered that it did, of which 36% felt it made the UK ‘much more attractive.’ Amongst the relatively small percentage of respondents who felt that Brexit made it more likely that they would study in the UK, the most significant factors were: 

▪      52% felt that the UK had become more welcoming to international students like them.

▪      43% felt that the Pound becoming weaker against their home currency would make a UK degree less expensive.

The survey presented respondents with a list of major alternative destinations to the UK for study, and asked if Brexit made the respondents more or less likely to study in those countries: 

▪      32% net increase in the likelihood of studying in Canada

▪      21% net increase in the likelihood of studying in Germany

▪      20% net increase in the likelihood of studying in United States and Australia

English-speaking countries and Germany were the main beneficiaries in terms of the balance between those less likely to study elsewhere because of Brexit, and those more likely to study there.

How should UK universities respond? 

Assure students that the fact they no longer belong to the EU doesn't mean progress will not continue

As part of the survey, respondents were asked what UK universities could do to allay students’ concerns. The need for reassurance was reflected in a number of their comments: 

▪      If UK universities could consider the volatility of the exchange rate for international students when determining the cost of attendance, adding extra funds as a kind of safety net, or introducing a programme that allows for an increase at a later disbursement, or some similar idea, that would put my mind at ease.”

▪      “Assure students that the fact they no longer belong to the EU doesn't mean progress will not continue. Try to make admission easy for students coming in and assuring them that their stay throughout would be non-stressful.”

For the full details of what students said should be done to make the UK a more attractive proposition and to download the International Student Survey report visit http://www.internationalstudentsurvey.com/2016/ or follow Hobsons @HobsonsEMEA #HobsonsInsights

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