Olivia Rusu
4 weeks ago

Three years of Brexit: What the British departure means for international students

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[REPORT] How the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European project changed the perception and online search behaviour of international students.

  • Students’ perceptions of the UK as a study destination
  • Popularity of the UK in online study search
  • Comparison of Russell Group universities and other UK institutions
  • New programme opportunities

Brexit is top-of-the-mind when thinking of political uncertainties: universities have been developing contingency plans to soften the impact of Brexit on international students, but often had very little data to make evidence-based decisions. Bracing for Brexit will require thorough preparation, timely information, quality data, and swift action. In this whitepaper, we wanted to further explore how students are being influenced by Brexit by looking at two critical aspects: their perceptions, and their search behaviour.

While British higher education offers world-class quality education, the financial success of many institutes hinges on the ability of the UK to attract and retain international students. Many universities are very reliant on international enrolments, and a few, especially on EU nationals. The numbers of European students choosing to study in the UK has started to plateau, partially because of changing demographics, but also because of increased availability for English programmes within Europe itself.

Students’ perceptions of UK as a study destination are not easy to evaluate. Their opinions change over time, but the overall mood is uninviting, as a survey gauged earlier this year. However, not everything is as polarised as industry insiders or newspaper headlines warn: the UK is still one of the most popular study destinations, with educational excellence well recognised by students worldwide.

Furthermore, a comforting message seems to be coming from prospective student behavioural data. For the time being – months before the final deadline on 31st October – Brexit does not seem to be taking a toll on student search patterns: students are continuing to consider British universities, regardless of political uncertainties. Nevertheless, the weight they give to different teaching methods (e.g. online education) or specific institutions (e.g. Russell Group universities) is subject to change.

As Brexit keeps changing and evolving, adapting plans requires timely information. We will continue to monitor the situation closely to provide the optimal data-driven advice to both students and universities.

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