The Importance of Diversification in Universities in the UK
The global coronavirus crisis has spotlighted just how dependent UK Higher Education Institutions are on international students. Aside from the financial risks posed by the lower influx of international students in the following year, which the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) project will cause a loss of more than £100 million in income, the diversification of the student body will be hugely affected.
According to 2018/2019 data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), Chinese students currently comprise 35% of all non-EU international students at 120,385 students. However, recent statistics show that numbers of Chinese students applying to study abroad were already declining before Covid-19.
The growing percentage of students considering studying domestically could be due to the economic strain of an aging population, greater affordability in Chinese higher education, or impressive rankings growth (China now boasts 19 of the world’s top 200 research universities, increasing from 12 in 2016, in the QS World University Rankings 2020).
Benefits of international students to UK Universities:
Aside from the fiscal profits that universities benefit from, the acceptance of international students to UK universities is conducive to increasing domestic students’ awareness of different cultures beyond their own.
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education identifies “global citizenship” as a key feature of 21st century higher education; this is described as ‘encouraging a capacity to thrive in a globalised society and economy, and an awareness of cultures beyond and different to one’s own’.
In addition, international students have long been the heart of innovation and research at UK institutions. Overseas researchers and PhD students play a vital role in continually refreshing the UK’s research base, and in developing our position as a world-leading research nation.
Focusing on greater diversity:
With more and more prospective international students looking to cancel or defer their study abroad, universities must revitalise their strategy for more inclusivity if they are to maintain their global standing. Currently, the biggest international markets for incoming students to the UK are China, India and USA.
However, with the threat to the number of international intakes next year, universities should look to diversify their international student recruitment rather than relying on certain outsized regions. Underestimating the impact of socioeconomic trends and population forecasts, as many higher education experts have agreed, can affect an institution’s revenue outcome.
Additionally, universities that fail to diversify the country of origin of their next cohort of international students miss an opportunity to diversify their campus, enriching the student experience for all.
In understanding the motivations of the next cohort of international students, QS consultant, Kesh Patel, states that, “establishing why they want to study abroad, what they’re looking for in an institution, course, and career, and post-graduation plans are important factors when deciding if you can offer them an attractive proposition.”
What do international students expect from UK institutions?
A mistake that can be easy to make is assuming that all international students are one homogenous group when in fact, their interests, motivations, and goals vary between different areas.
QS’s recent study outlines what prospective students from different regions of the world expect from Higher Education institutions when it comes to choosing their study abroad destinations.
North American students interested in studying in the UK state that these are the most important factors in choosing a host country: culture and lifestyle (56%), quality teaching (49%), and affordable tuition (46%).
In Southeast Asia, students state that these are their most important factors: it’s welcoming to international students (63%), universities have quality teaching (48%), and affordable cost of living (48%).
The study also investigated student trends in West Africa; while students from Africa make up a smaller proportion of the international student pool, Nigerian students made it to the top 10 source countries for the UK with 10,645 students for the 2018/2019 school year, according to HESA.
African students interested in studying in the UK state that these are the most important factors in choosing a host country: it’s welcoming to international students (68%), high quality teaching (53%), and affordable cost of living (48%).
Evidently, all three regions discussed show a trend in students considering high quality teaching and affordability as priority factors when choosing a host country for their study abroad. Using these statistics, universities can tailor their recruitment and marketing activities to showcase the best that the UK has to offer to attract a more diverse cohort of students.
A globalised student body offers UK universities the opportunity to maximise their appeal in the Higher Education market as they bring a plethora of benefits with them, such as increased research power, in-demand skills, and an enrichening cultural experience for all. Diversification is what makes UK universities a melting pot for global success and with the challenges posed by Coronavirus for the following year, it is imperative that UK institutions maintain strong relationships with their international partners and students.
Proodle appreciates that in order to stay on top of the game, we must move forward with the dynamism of technology and customise digital content that the current generation of students can easily engage with.
What Proodle Solutions offers is an innovative and secure personalised mobile platform for the potential student, which introduces institutions and programmes in a whole new way to make an everlasting impression. We help students understand what a university is about, their requirements, the application process and notify them on the latest social events on one streamlined platform.
If you would like to know more about how Proodle can digitally influence your international recruitment efforts, email us at [email protected] or give us a call on +447776557159