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1st March 2024

How to address student expectations of studying in the UK

Key findings from 62,000 students interested in studying in the UK.

In the face of heightened global competition for international students, UK institutions must strategically position themselves to maintain their appeal and relevance.

The United Kingdom’s allure as a premier destination for education and research remains undiminished, despite challenges posed by immigration restrictions. The UK is renowned for its prestigious universities and culturally vibrant environment and continues to attract students worldwide. However, in the face of heightened global competition for international students, UK institutions must strategically position themselves to maintain their appeal and relevance.

Here are key insights and recommendations distilled from recent QS research:

  1. Promote High-Quality Teaching: Emphasise the quality of teaching across all marketing channels to reassure prospective students about the educational standards offered.
    • 65% of students say that a high quality of teaching is the most important factor when choosing a course. It was the most influential factor in their choice of country and university too.
  2. Enhance Information Accessibility: Review and improve the presentation of information regarding international study opportunities to alleviate concerns and provide clarity.
    • Student view: “The UK is welcoming to international students. Its university degrees are valuable and it presents a lot of opportunities for international students.”
  3. Highlight Environmental Sustainability: Leverage UK universities’ strong credentials in environmental sustainability, ensuring clear communication of efforts and strategies.
    • Over 40% of prospective students are actively researching universities’ environmental sustainability strategy and efforts.
  4. Invest in Technological Solutions: Implement scalable solutions, including machine learning, to streamline enquiry, admission, and offer management processes.
    • 60% of students interested in the UK expect a complete personalised response to an enquiry within three days.
  5. Address Concerns About Online Learning: If launching online course provisions, address concerns such as social interaction, overseas living experience, and access to facilities.
    • 43% of candidates looking to study in the UK have no interest whatsoever in studying online, compared to 33% in 2022 and 29% in 2021.
  6. Emphasise Career Outcomes: Highlight high graduate employability rates and career-oriented outcomes to appeal to student aspirations.
    • 58% of students interested in the UK say that a high graduate employability rate is the most important consideration when thinking of graduate outcomes.
  7. Communicate Reputation and Prestige: Capitalise on the reputation of UK institutions to reassure students about better career prospects.
    • Student view: “I’ve always dreamed of studying in the United Kingdom because of the well-established universities and the opportunities I’ll have for work due to their good reputation.”
  8. Address Affordability Concerns: Mitigate concerns about the cost of living by offering affordable tuition, scholarships, and facilitating access to affordable accommodation.
    • For 68% of prospective students interested in the UK, their biggest worry about moving to a different country is the cost of living.

These insights underscore the need for UK universities to adapt and innovate in response to evolving student preferences and global trends. By aligning their strengths with student expectations and aspirations, UK institutions can maintain their position as leaders in global higher education.

If you need advice on how to use these insights and more to target the right international audience with the right message, then get in touch with kim.mclellan@hunterlodge.co.uk


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