International students choose schools based on teaching quality over rankings - study
Some 85 percent of prospective students are now researching the schools the plan to go to on social channels. Source: Shutterstock

International students are now placing top priority on teaching quality instead of rankings, a new study by Hobsons found.

Students heading abroad to study also find staff qualification and student satisfaction more important than a university’s performance on rankings charts –  a result Hobsons say may pave the way for lower-ranked schools to appeal to international students via other methods.

“These findings show there is much universities can do to appeal to international students by demonstrating the strength of their offer in terms other than rankings,” Hobsons EMEA managing director Jeremy Cooper said in a statement.

The student recruitment and retention solutions company surveyed 62,366 prospective students from 196 nationalities based on the database of 65 universities.

Apart from finding 79 percent of respondents would choose a school based on excellent teaching quality over one with high rankings, the report also revealed how social media is now students’ main way to get information about universities.

Some 85 percent of prospective students are now researching the schools the plan to go to on social channels. To get more information, almost half (45 percent) say they would like to be able to use social messaging app WhatsApp to communicate with the schools they are interested in, followed by Facebook (35 percent).

Their reliance on social media spills onto the ensuing stages of their university search. A sizable number continue to use social media when applying, in deciding whether or not to accept an offer and after accepting an offer.

And when it then boils down to choosing a destination, students are found to be highly motivated by how welcome a place makes them feel.

“Above all, they want a high-quality education at an affordable cost in a place they will feel welcome,” the report said, adding universities recruitment drives need to articulate and demonstrate what they can offer clearly in these three areas – quality teaching, affordability and sense of welcome. 

“Higher education plays an important role in the global economy, society and in nurturing generations to come. Universities need to respond dynamically to the strategic challenges higher education faces globally,” Cooper said.

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