University choices widening for international pupils

International school students are increasingly looking at countries like China when it comes to where to study for undergraduate degrees, research shows

students with globe

Students in international schools are eyeing up an increasingly wide range of destination countries for their higher education, research reveals. 

Schools also report that universities from a wider range of countries are promoting their courses to students, according to the findings from education consultancy ISC Research.


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Researchers asked 126 schools to identify the differences between the higher education choices made by their graduating students this year, compared with last year.

The majority of responses suggested students felt their options had increased.

Overall, 89 per cent – agreed with the statement: "My students considered more destination countries for their undergraduate degrees."

And nearly two thirds – 64 per cent – said: "Universities from more countries were promoting their degrees to my students."

Some schools mentioned the popularity of Chinese universities' partnership programs as a factor in students' choices, while others highlighted the increasing attraction of Canadian institutions. 

As for the UK, schools mentioned a drop in students choosing British universities, with a shift to the Netherlands.

Cost was mentioned as a significant factor. “Fees in Scotland (are) favoured over England,” one school commented.

However, schools named the US, UK, Canada, Netherlands and Australia as the countries their students were most interested in moving to for higher education.

The destinations are notably all English-speaking apart from the Netherlands, which offers a large number of English-medium degrees.

The language of instruction is a significant factor in the popularity of higher education destination countries, the report noted, adding that the number of English-taught courses in many non-English-speaking countries is increasing.

Diane Glass, commercial director at ISC Research, said the trend is due to a mix of reasons, including schools' guidance, the emergence of new study abroad destinations, and factors deterring students from traditional destinations.

She told Tes: "International students are supported by college counsellors to find the best-fit degree at the best-fit university destination for their individual needs.

"As a result, we are hearing from many international school college counsellors that their students are no longer only considering the traditional destinations for their undergraduate study.

"This is partly because of the new options that are emerging in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, Malaysia and China, and also for reasons that are currently deterring them from places like the UK and United States.”

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