QS Enrolment Solutions has recently published the 6th International Students Survey, the world’s largest survey of pre-enrolment for international and EU students. The survey reveals prospective students’ expectations on their higher education experience and the criteria based on which they decide which country to move to and which university to apply for.
67,172 students from 191 countries were surveyed for this purpose, in the period from November 2017 to March 2018. Of them, 22,838 are considering of applying to 11 European countries. Gleaning from their answers, the report sets a series of recommendations for European countries, so that their internationalisation strategies match prospective students’ expectations.
In a nutshell, the survey reveals that prospective students attach a lot of importance to the quality of teaching: they prefer lecturers who are passionate about the subject they teach (81%) and who have a “real-world” experience (69%). Students also show a big deal of appreciation towards country-wide rating systems for universities, (such as the Teaching Excellence Framework in the UK and the Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching in Australia). Therefore, having such systems in place might contribute to increasing a country’s attractiveness as a study abroad destination.
When it comes to their effective decision-making, international students first decide on the subject and the course they want to study, then the country, the university and the town, respectively. At this stage, considerations about career prospects play a big role, followed by the high quality of teaching of the course they want to follow. Other factors also include how welcoming a country is towards international students (in terms of affordability, scholarships granted and safety). It comes as no surprise that students gather most of their information on social media (65%), mostly Facebook.
The students who were surveyed predict that universities in the future will have more lectures online, that they will be able to get qualifications from any university regardless of which country they live in and that more people will be able to go to university. In order not to turn these expectations down, much work needs to be done.
Link to the survey