The State of UK International Student Recruitment: Uncovering the Latest International Student Survey Findings

UK international student recruitment

The 2020 QS International Student Survey is now live! The exclusive survey findings reveal where UK international student recruitment stands now and the low awareness for the UK’s post-study work visa extension.  

Exclusive QS research has found that only 6% of prospective international students interested in studying in the UK are aware of the extension to its post-study work visa.  

The 2020 QS International Student Survey (ISS), the largest survey of its kind which collected responses from over 78,000 prospective international students (over 33,000 of which were interested in studying in the UK), revealed a range of insights about the state of UK international student recruitment.  

A lack of awareness 

For those respondents interested in studying in the UK, a staggering 48% think that they can only stay for up to four months after they graduatewhich were the previous restrictions placed on international students 

The post-study work visa was extended from four months to up to two years in 2019in line with industry experts and previous research and recommendations provided by QS. 

Despite this big step, it seems that the UK government and universities now need to do more to communicate this change and ensure that prospective international students know what their post-study work rights are in the UK. 

Additionally, the ISS found that 60% of respondents would be more likely to consider studying in the UK if the post-study work visa was extended from two years to three.  

Students also expressed a lack of awareness for the UK’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) with only 27% of respondents stating that they had heard of it, compared to 22% in 2018 when it was first introduced. 

This modest increase suggests that more needs to be done to promote awareness of the TEF to an international student audience. 

The new normal 

Proactive and strategic international student recruitment has never been more important as universities struggle to overcome the many challenges presented by the coronavirus.  

The ISS reports that the proportion of students who have had to change their plans to study in the UK due to COVID-19 more than doubled from 27% in mid-February to 58% in late March.  

However, the majority of these students still intend to study abroad in the future with 52% of respondents planning to defer their entry until 2021 if they are unable to start their studies this year. 

Jo Johnson, former Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, introduced the UK ISS and states that: “This influential QS survey confirms that the proportion of prospective international students changing their plans and deferring entry has risen sharply since February. With COVID-19 travel bans and social distancing measures in place, university finances and student recruitment strategies are adjusting to painful new realities.”  

“To thrive in the new landscape, higher education institutions will need to rely more heavily on international student recruitment through a completely digital process. Governments can help by acting quickly to ensure that the value proposition of studying abroad does not diminish due to travel restrictions.”  

To discover more insights from the 2020 QS International Student Surveyplease download the full report here.  

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