UK students are hungry to study abroad, says Domestic Student Survey 2019
There's a strong appetite for courses that offer opportunities to study abroad among UK domestic students. Source: Shutterstock

Sixty-three percent of UK domestic students favour courses that provide opportunities to study abroad, reveals the Domestic Student Survey 2019.

Despite the low uptake of study abroad opportunities in the UK market overall, 25 percent of domestic students in the country claim to be considering studying abroad.

Launched yesterday by QS Enrolment Solutions, the Domestic Student Survey was set up to provide a UK domestic equivalent to the International Student Survey – an annual survey of pre-enrolment international students who have expressed an interest in studying outside of their home country.

The unique research conducted for this year’s Domestic Student Survey – now in its second year – strives to understand the decision-making criteria UK students consider when making choices about university.

The survey received 1,700 responses and was conducted between November and December 2018. The majority of respondents were aged 16-18 (94 percent). It had a representative geographical spread with a focus on London and the South East (39 percent) – concurrent with UCAS 2018 data which suggest 37 percent of applicants come from one of these two regions.

Thirty-seven percent of UK university applicants come from London or the South East. Source: Shutterstock

The survey also found that cost of living is the most significant factor for prospective students thinking about studying overseas, ultimately impacting countries they consider of interest.

When asked how much they thought EU students should pay in tuition fees whilst studying in the UK, almost two-fifths of respondents thought they should pay exactly the same as UK students, while 36 percent believe they should pay more than domestic applicants, but not as much as other international students.

Only a minority of 16 percent thought that EU students should pay the same as other international students.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • 88 percent of prospective students in the UK think the Government should subsidise at least half the costs of teaching undergraduates.
  • Prospective students want their tuition fees to be spent on improving course resources, work placements/career opportunities, student accommodation and course-content, and increasing one-to-one time available with teaching staff.
  • There is a strong interest from prospective students in the possibility of two-year, accelerated degrees as a means of achieving greater value for money; 57 percent claim they would be either very or somewhat interested.
  • Awareness of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) has grown slightly between 2018 and 2019, from 46 percent to 51 percent. However, three-quarters of students claim that neither TEF nor the way in which TEF results are calculated are well explained to them.
  • The financial pressure on students means 17 percent of respondents are exclusively applying to universities close to their home, hoping to save money on travel and accommodation.

To sustain and strengthen levels of domestic student recruitment in the UK, the Domestic Study Survey recommends an Action Plan for Domestic Student Recruitment this year. Among the key points includes the request for increased focus on international partnerships that offer study abroad opportunities, especially as the UK prepares to leave the EU on March 29.

Andy Nicol, Managing Director at QS Enrolment Solutions, said: “As a key partner to the sector, we at QS Enrolment Solutions will continue to play our part in providing key insights and services. We are pleased to be increasing our attention to strategic approaches to domestic student recruitment at a time when higher education in the UK is facing strategic hurdles, from the potential impact of Brexit to the Augar review.

“Given our finding that there is a high interest in courses that offer study abroad programmes amongst prospective UK students, we join Universities UK in encouraging the Government to commit to continue funding study abroad opportunities in the event of a no deal Brexit.”

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