More than four in five international graduates say UK degree is 'worth the investment'
Over 90 percent of UK international alumni surveyed report "being satisfied or very satisfied" with every aspect of their lives. Source: Shutterstock

The majority of international graduates from UK universities believe their degree was worth their financial investment, crediting their post-graduation success to their British higher education, a new report has found.

Over 90 percent of UK international alumni surveyed reported “being satisfied or very satisfied” with all aspects of their lives, according to the survey by Universities UK International (UUK International), which represents UK universities globally and helps them meet their international aims. More than four in five (83 percent) are satisfied with their careers thus far.

“The survey results show that international graduates from UK universities go on to successful and satisfying careers, and that the majority of them recognise that their UK degree is a vehicle for their success. The results also show just how valuable our international graduates are as ambassadors for the UK,” said the report.

Chris Skidmore, the UK’s Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, said: “The results are very encouraging, showing that a majority of international students enjoy their time in the UK and credit a UK degree with helping them get to where they are today.”

A total of 16,199 international graduates who had completed their studies between January 2011 and July 2016 at 58 UK universities participated in the International Graduate Outcomes 2019 (i-GO), conducted by iGraduate. Most (64 percent) had graduated two to five years prior, while the rest had completed their studies five to seven years ago.

The majority of responses came from both non-EU and EU graduates who had studied at the taught postgraduate level. Nationality-wise, the respondents reflected the population of international students studying in the UK, with the US as the largest non-EU nationality represented, followed by China, India, Nigeria and Malaysia, which make up five of the top six non-EU nationalities of students in that academic year.

Here are some notable findings from the survey:

  • 83 percent said their qualification helped them get their job.
  • 53 percent working in their home countries believe they earn above average or well above average compared to peers who studied in their home country.
    69 percent of respondents feel having a UK degree meant they could progress more quickly in their chosen career.
  • The wage premium associated with a UK qualification was 202 percent for Chinese graduates, 129 percent for Malaysian graduates, 83 percent for Indian graduates, and 50 percent for US graduates (according to local graduate salary data sources).

The findings fill the gap in what we know about the career and other outcomes of international graduates, especially those who work outside the UK after they graduate.

It’s the “final piece of evidence” needed to persuade the government to bring back post-study work visas, for which the abolition in 2012 is blamed for the country’s stagnation international enrolments. Vivienne Stern, Director of UUK International, told Times Higher Education she would “eat her hat” if the amendment to the immigration bill isn’t accepted when it returns to Parliament.

“I think this report is the final piece of evidence just to show…why are we holding ourselves back when everybody benefits from international students choosing the UK?”

A report by London Economics for the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) published earlier this year found similar sizeable contributions to the UK economy. Global learners who stay on to work in the UK post-graduation could have contributed £3.173 billion to the Exchequer in tax and national insurance contributions over 10 years, found the report.

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