In a “pulse survey” of 3,000 prospective international students from the EU and otherwise, QS found about 20% said Brexit made them less interested in the UK, and 36% said that if the UK remained in the EU, they would be more likely to choose it for their university studies.
“Attracting European students has become a lot more competitive”
The motivations for those who said they would be more interested in the UK if it retained EU membership ranged from reputation to financial viability.
A large percentage of respondents said that if the UK remained in the EU it would prove the country is still welcoming to international students, while others said they thought it would make it easier for them to find a job after graduation.
“Our research shows that irrespective of the Brexit outcome the UK Government must work with the sector to continue promoting the UK as a leading study destination for international and EU students,” QS director of B2B marketing & market intelligence Paul Raybould said in a statement.
But differences in responses from EU and non-EU students varied widely.
This was evident also in a survey Studyportals ran on 1,400 students the week before the first planned Brexit date (29 March).
For 57% of non EEA respondents, Brexit didn’t have any effect on the UK’s appeal as a study destination – a “silver lining” for universities worried about future enrolments, marketing analytics consultant Carmen Neghina told The PIE.
But 64% of EU respondents said the UK was less attractive due to Brexit.
“The negative effect is three times more pronounced for EEA students who would of course be the most impacted by the changes and challenges Brexit would bring with it,” she said.
Gerrit Blöss, Founder and CEO of Study.eu, said that EU students are indeed less interested in the UK and looking at other destinations such as Germany, Sweden and Finland.
“Attracting European students has become a lot more competitive,” he explained.
However, statistics show that for non-EU students, who make up 70% of the website traffic, interest in the UK has remained relatively stable – but uncertainty remains among those students as well, Blöss said.
“Whatever the impact of Brexit will be on the UK’s economy, we expect it have a strong effect on the following year’s application numbers,” he added.