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UK tops student recommendations, number one for research experience

The UK is the English speaking study destination international students are most likely to recommend to their friends according to reports released by the UK HE’s International Unit.

Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Maude and International Unit director Vivienne Stern . Photo: The PIE NewsMinister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Maude and International Unit director Vivienne Stern . Photo: The PIE News

The UK remains a top choice for international students “despite the Home Office’s best efforts”

Based on responses from 365,754 international students from 800 universities across the globe, including over 100 UK universities from i-graduate’s International Student Barometer, the studies show the UK ranks number one for international student recommendation at the undergraduate, postgraduate taught (PGT) and postgraduate research (PGR) levels, higher than results from the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

Released at the organisation’s third annual International Higher Education Forum (#IHFE16) this week, the reports on postgraduate taught and research student satisfaction are additions to the undergraduate study released late last year and show UK HE’s improvement on 2008’s results.

86% of PGT students and 85% of PGRs would recommend their experience

UK universities are second in the world for postgraduate study enrolments, but the research shows that 86% of PGT students and 85% of PGRs would recommend their experience. Compared to its English speaking rivals, it also has the highest satisfaction rates for the research student experience, ranking number one in 47 of 85 indicators including course content, expert supervisors and research.

Areas where levels of satisfaction among PGR and PGT students have dropped since 2008 include earning money, visas, financial support and the cost of accommodation.

International Unit director, Vivienne Stern, highlighted the positive results at the event, underlining the role of international collaboration in the sector’s overall success. She added that the UK remains a top choice for international students “despite the Home Office’s best efforts” reflecting the reports’ appeal for greater support to strengthen the sector’s weak points.

To address what it calls “competitive gaps” in the PGT market, the report calls “for policy attention to be directed to access to employment during study as well as current visa arrangements” adding that a “growing differential in post-study opportunities will put UK institutions at a competitive disadvantage in attempting to recruit the best of the international student pool”.

In the closing plenary and his final address in his role as the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Lord Maude told delegates the government is committed to supporting the international education sector through continuing to increase the amount of education exports.

The UK has the highest satisfaction rates for the research student experience

Including the often quoted reminder that “there is no cap on international student numbers”, Maude also said “sometimes adverse rumours” about the government’s policy on international student numbers should be quashed. He added the government is keen to drive up numbers through digital offerings.

A soft launch was also given at the event for a new Department for International Development fund targeting HE partnerships in low-income countries. The Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR) will be managed by the British Council in association with the International Unit and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The scheme aims to deliver “strategic and transformative change in higher education systems globally” by creating opportunities for new organisations, both public and private.

More information is expected to be released in the coming months with the fund set to open in June this year focusing on Sub-Saharan Africa with potential expansion into Asia.

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