the UK is still a desirable study destination

A new 2017 study, published by Universities UK International, The UK’s Competitive Advantage, found that international students in the UK have higher levels of satisfaction than their global peers.

The study revealed that 86 percent of international undergraduates in the UK are “very likely” to recommend the UK as a study destination.  This figure is three percentage points higher than results in 2008.

What’s refreshing for the UK?  These numbers are higher than other significant global study destinations like the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands.

The report also shows that the UK is number one for student satisfaction, with 91 percent of international students reporting that they are “satisfied.”

The drop in numbers of international students studying in the UK is a worry to universities.

“International recruitment figures in the UK over the last few years have not done justice either to the global success of the UK’s universities, or the sector’s ability to tap into this substantial growth market,” says Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK. “At the same time, competitor countries have seen rises in international student numbers.”

When aggressive statements on immigration are made by British politicians and a few days later hit newspapers in India, Pakistan or Malaysia, it’s hardly surprising that as a prospective student you may decide to spend three years and a shedload of your cash somewhere a bit friendlier.

Dandridge says: “The quality of our universities must be matched by the quality of welcome we provide to students.”

Fees are a big worry for many international students, says a British Council survey. High costs and poor exchange rates may be a reason why more international students are doing UK university courses outside the UK now than inside, studying either on satellite campuses or via distance learning – or a combination of the two.

If you’re a student deciding where to do your degree, you have more choice than ever on where to study. David Smith, from Simon-Kucher & Partners, thinks this could lead to UK universities setting different prices for different courses, to better reflect the value of the course you’re applying for.

Worries about getting a job after graduation are particularly hard for international students whose families have made enormous financial sacrifices so they can study overseas.

“A lot of Indian students get a loan through their parents, which they’ll have to pay back. Without being able to work here afterwards, that’s not feasible now,” says Vicki Smith, director of Study in the UK, which offers advice on UK higher education to students in countries around the world.

A visa to work beyond four months after graduating from a university in the UK now normally requires a job with a minimum salary of at least £20,300 a year – and it can be even higher for some sectors. A mechanical engineer must earn a minimum of £24,100, an electrical engineer £23,600 and a design engineer £24,800.

Given that the UK graduate job market is hardly at its healthiest – latest data from the Destinations of Leavers of Higher Education survey shows that the median salary of employed graduates from full-time courses six months after graduation was £20,000 – this means that many overseas students will be heading home shortly after handing their graduation gown and mortarboard back to the hire shop.

And while PhD graduates are allowed stay on for a year to look for work or start a business through the Doctorate Extension Scheme, introduced in April 2013, their university must be willing to continue being their sponsor. This is different to USA, Canada, Australia and Germany who are extending their post-study work offer in recognition of the skills that international students can offer their job markets.

Despite all this, the UK is expected to retain its position as the second strongest market after the US, attracting an extra 126,000 international students, according to a study by the British Council’s education intelligence service.

But with China, for example, investing heavily in its own universities and colleges, there is likely to be a fall in the numbers of Chinese prepared to spend a king’s ransom to study abroad, and larger numbers wanting to apply to do their degree in one of the fastest growing economies in the world.