Brexit – is it a positive or a negative for international recruitment?

We asked new international students about Brexit and its impact on their views regarding aspects of UK higher education. When asking them, these students had just started their course in the UK in Autumn 2016 and 2017 respectively. The picture they paint us is somewhat confusing, to say the least, and goes against many of the rhetoric that we can hear from media.

The impact of Brexit on perceptions of the overall attractiveness of the UK as a place to studyThe new cohort starting in 2017 seems more hopeful than the one the year before. This is consistent across EU and non-EU (Rest of World) nationals. The share of new internationals students reporting a positive impact of Brexit on their perceptions of the overall attractiveness of the UK as a place to study has gone up by 4% points among EU/EEA nationals and by 5% points among RoW nationals. In line with this, the share of those reporting a negative impact of Brexit on the same aspect has gone down by 7% point among EU/EEA nationals and by 3% points among RoW nationals.

It is very hard to tell whether this is a mere coincidence, or whether the UK is attracting more international students who see the positives of Brexit.

We are very curious about this year’s results to see whether the trend keeps going in the same direction or not.

We are now in the process of conducting the fifth wave of our research among new international students. If you are interested in finding out more about the current or previous research, please don’t hesitate to contact us. If your institution intends to take part in the research, please read the call for participation.

British International Schools Provide Key Pathway into UK Higher Education

The latest Independent School Council (ISC) Census in 2017 found for the first time that the number of international pupils attending international campuses of UK independent schools exceeds the number of non-British pupils attending independent schools in the UK. Fifty-nine such campuses educate a total of 31,773 pupils, an increase from 46 campuses in 2016 with 27,619 pupils. This compares to 27,281 pupils with parents living overseas who are educated in ISC schools in the UK this time. In total, international pupils make up 5.2% of pupils at ISC schools.

These overseas satellites have been set up mainly in lucrative markets such as China, the Gulf states, Malaysia and Singapore where there seems to be a growing appetite for UK education. Recent British Council research looking at factors contributing to the rapid expansion of UK private schools overseas, cites increased government scrutiny of international students coming to the UK as well as the need for these schools to find new revenue streams as the sector becomes increasing unaffordable for British parents as key reasons for the experience.

As UK universities face increasingly tough competition for international students as well as greater financial uncertainties, especially in the wake of Brexit, our own research demonstrates that the UK school system is providing an important pathway into the HE sector for these internationally mobile students.

UK SchoolsOur annual survey among new international undergraduate students entering UK universities in 2016/17 found that a third came from school directly, of whom one in seven were already in the UK. Further, of those undergraduates who come from the school system outside the UK, 12% were educated in a British international school. According to COBIS (Council of British International Schools), half of its pupils go onto UK universities.

This underlines the importance of understanding and embracing this key pathway into UK higher education. It suggests that UK HEIs should ensure that international recruitment strategies take into account both the international profile of children already in the UK school system and those within UK overseas schools as well. It is important to maintain strong links with international officers of leading UK independent and British International schools.

Given the ambitious target set by the British government to increase education exports, the contribution of these international students in the UK school system cannot be underestimated. The continued attraction of a UK education depends on maintaining the current strong reputation for a high quality education.

A survey we conducted last year for the UK Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA),the largest association of boarding schools in the world, found that two-thirds of parents of international pupils send their children to boarding schools in the UK because of  the high quality of education and nearly a quarter do so in order to improve their child’s access to UK higher education.  It  is expected that UK independent schools will continue to expand in key overseas regions and should be in a strong position to take advantage of growing populations interested in an international education and the enduring appeal of a British education.

At the same time, UK and other Western universities are also increasingly expanding by setting up international branch campuses, a recent example being the University of Birmingham’s plans to open a satellite in Dubai. These offer international students a degree from a prestigious university without the expense or visa barriers of studying abroad. Undoubtedly, pupils from British international schools will be key targets for these institutions.

Here and there – TNE as a way of gaining an international qualification

The third wave of our research conducted among new international students starting their course at a UK universities in the academic year 2016/17 confirmed that there are many routes that international students take to arrive at UK universities. Three in five come directly from school or university but, a significant share (29%) were actually working prior to starting their current course. This share rises to nearly half among new international postgraduate students.

Blog Post 1 ChartAlthough potentially of less economic value to UK universities, those on TNE courses and only doing part of their course in the UK, are an increasingly important group. Nearly three in ten new international students opt for this mode of study for various financial and personal reasons. This share rises to four in ten among international undergraduates. In some origin countries this represents a significant part of the HE course provision (over two thirds of new undergraduates from China and nearly half of those from Malaysia claim to be TNE students).

We are now in the process of setting up the fourth wave or our research among new international students. If you are interested in finding out more about the current or previous research, please don’t hesitate to contact us. If your institution participated in the research and you have not received a headline report, please get in touch.

The Lycée Winston Churchill; the future for intercultural education?

In September we were delighted to be invited to the official opening by the President of France of the Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill on the site of the former Brent Town Hall in Wembley.

Francois Hollande gives speech at the Lycee Winston Churchill opening

The new Lycée complements the long-established Lycée Charles de Gaulle in Kensington and the recently opened Collège Français Bilingue de Londres in Kentish Town in reflecting and responding to the needs of the rapidly growing French and Francophone population in London.

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There is still time to join the second wave of International Students survey

International student choice and decision-making

We are currently running the second wave of our annual survey among new international students at UK Higher Education Institutions. The British Council and the GREAT Britain campaign are supporting the research again. This survey explores the student customer journey, decision making process and the UK’s perceived competitive strengths and weaknesses as a study destination. More than 70 UK HEIs took part in last year’s research and we have already more than 50 institutions on board this year.

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New International Student Survey – Win an iPad Pro worth £700

New International Students!

Opportunity to win a brand new iPad Pro worth £700: tell us about your decision to study in the UK

We are interested to learn more about the influences and decision-making process for international students in the UK. Your answers will help the UK university sector to improve the communication of its offer to students like you from around the world.

We would like you to complete a short survey with the chance to win one of two brand new iPad Pros.

The survey will take about 10 minutes. Please answer as fully as you can.

Everybody who completes the survey will be entered into a prize draw. Two winners drawn at random will each receive a brand new iPad Pro worth £700.

IMPORTANT: in order to be eligible for the prize you draw, you must be a recently arrived international student at a UK University. You may only complete the survey once.

The survey is being conducted in accordance with the Market Research Society Code of Conduct. Any personal information (email, student ID) that is collected will only be used to identify the prize draw winners and will not be used to for any marketing follow-up.

UK higher education faces growing international competition including from within the EU

IHE Customer Journey Headline Report 2015The UK education brand remains strong with a reputation for academic quality, the English language and UK culture and lifestyle being key strengths.  However, there is growing competition for international students not only from key English language speaking countries such as USA, Australia and Canada but also from European competitors such as Germany or France.

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Parents highly satisfied with state boarding provision reveals our latest research

Almost all parents of boarders at state boarding schools claim that their child is happy boarding (93%) and would recommend their child’s school or boarding to others (95%), reveals our latest research commissioned by the State Boarding Schools’ Association (SBSA).

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Success in international education requires inter-cultural competence

Our latest forecasts suggest that in academic year 2014/15 just under 40,000 Chinese nationals will start Postgraduate level studies at a UK Higher Education Institutions alongside 21,000 of their fellow country-men and women who will start courses at Undergraduate level.

While the official data will not be published for another eighteen months, Robert Peston of the BBC has recently pointed out that the number of Chinese students starting Masters courses in the UK is not far short of the number of UK students. In areas such as maths, science and engineering, Chinese students are already numerically by far the dominant national group.

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