Britain’s decision to leave the EU has had little impact on international students’ decision to study in the UK, a recent survey has found. The International Student Survey 2017 was conducted by the student recruitment and retention solutions company Hobsons in January and February 2017. The survey of 27,955 prospective international students, who were considering studying in the UK, found that high-quality teaching is the single most important factor for prospective international students when choosing a university, course or destination country.
Brexit has had made no difference to 68.5 per cent of students, while only 12.7 per cent said they were less interested in UK study. The remaining 11.3 per cent said Brexit made them more interested in the UK. The results indicate a softening of the initial negative reaction to the June 2016 EU referendum when 43 per cent said the decision had affected their choice of study destination.
The survey cites campaigns such as #WeAreInternational for helping to shape positive perceptions of the UK as a welcoming country to overseas students. After respondents were shown news coverage of #WeAreInternational and #LondonIsOpen campaigns, almost half (46.6 per cent) felt fully persuaded that the UK is a welcoming country. An additional 37 per cent reportedly feeling slightly persuaded and only 16% said they felt no persuasion at all.
The #WeAreInternational campaign, founded and developed by the University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union, was relaunched following the EU referendum result. So far, over 160 universities, education institutions and international organisations have backed it. “UK universities have always been international in their outlook and communities, and that will never change,” Malcolm Butler, Director of Global Engagement at the University of Sheffield, said.
Sheffield itself is consistently cited by international students as being a friendly and welcoming city. However, we know that there will be times when we need to work harder to make sure that students and staff know how welcome they are in the UK. “Here at the University of Sheffield, we are incredibly proud to have founded and led on the #WeAreInternational campaign – which is now supported by every UK university, the British Council and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”
“To hear that the messages of #WeAreInternational are being well received by international students makes us even more determined to keep promoting our positive, welcoming messages.” As part of the #WeAreInternational campaign, the University of Sheffield developed a film to highlight the experiences of international students in the UK.