According to results from the 2015 StudyPortals International Student Satisfaction Awards, Ireland is home to the most satisfied international students, surpassing its European counterparts for the first time ever.

Last year’s leaders were predominantly Scandinavian, with Finland, Denmark and Sweden topping the board. This year, however, foreign students carrying out their studies overseas in Ireland reported the highest rates of student satisfaction.

Carmen Neghina, Education Intelligence Specialist at StudyPortals, told The Pie News: “The biggest surprise this year is Ireland overtaking the Nordic countries, simply because students in Finland, Sweden and Denmark have been reporting the highest levels of satisfaction for the previous two years.”

Despite missing out on the premier positions, the Nordic countries continued to score highly, with Finland coming in second for its solid student services and lively student life, as Sweden and Denmark closely follow suit.

StudyPortals collected data from over 17,000 reviews that were added to its student experience website,, over the past academic year. Despite recent rankings placing a number of UK institutions among the best in the world, the StudyPortals survey saw the UK come in tenth for international student satisfaction as Ireland stormed to first.

Foreign students were complementary when it came to the UK’s teachers, quality of teaching, and international recognition of their university degree, but common gripes included the high cost of living, shoddy accommodation, and the temperamental changes in the Great British climate.

Despite a drop from last year’s figures, international student satisfaction in Europe remains high, with 86% of students being satisfied with their study abroad experience, compared to 89% in 2014.

Nevertheless, France continues to have the lowest score on the scale of student satisfaction with a score of 8.2, and complaints continuing to revolve around poor student services and the excessive bureaucracy.

“French universities were mostly criticised for not being student-centric enough,” says Carmen, “with students complaining about frequent schedule changes, overlapping courses, bureaucracy or limited English proficiency of the academic staff.”

This year, five of Ireland’s universities have won prestigious awards, including Maynooth University, which received a certificate of outstanding student satisfaction.

Neghina added: “Irish universities were appreciated mostly for the friendliness of the teachers, the close student community, the quality of the education, and referred to their courses being “inspirational” and “innovative” and offering a great combination of theoretical knowledge and applied skills.”

The National University of Ireland, the University of Limerick and the University College Cork all received ‘Excellent’ International Student Satisfaction Awards, while University College Dublin was rated ‘Very Good’.

Other recipients of the ‘Outstanding’ award include; the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, Poznan University of Economics in Poland, Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

In terms of numbers, Spain is host to the highest numbers of winning universities with 24 awards, followed by Germany with 16, and Italy came in third with a total of 10 awards.

This year, a record number of students opted to study abroad, making it ever more important for universities to hone in on the overall student experience they offer. Today’s students are more critical than ever when it comes to their HE institution, therefore, it is crucial for the modern university to provide an experience that is active and diverse across the board if they are to attract the highest-performing students.

StudyPortals CEO, Edwin van Rest, says: “In the long-term, university reputation is no longer enough to attract the best talent, and students expect their universities to also offer a good service level, a strong international community, promising careers perspectives and a return on their education investment.”

Image via Shutterstock.

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