More than a third of UK students considering study overseas

A new survey of UK and US students shows that 37 per cent of UK students are considering overseas study – up from 20 per cent in 2013. This survey was conducted by the British Council’s Education Intelligence service and is published in the “Broadening Horizons 2014: Embedding a culture of overseas study” research report.

Key motivators include a thirst for travel and adventure, experiencing other cultures, and helping them to stand out when applying for future jobs. Higher university tuition fees are also causing some to look at options abroad where fees can be much lower. 

The biggest perceived barriers to studying overseas among British students are worries about fitting in with another culture, lack of confidence in foreign language skills, and concerns about cost and foreign travel. 

Most students felt there is still not enough information available about opportunities for studying overseas. However, awareness of UK government scholarship programmes available to help students study abroad appears to be growing, with 26 per cent saying they were aware of these compared with just 17 per cent last year. 

The United States is by far the most popular study destination among UK students, chosen by a third of those considering a course in another country. Among UK students, Australia, France and Germany, are the next most popular choices. 

The report also contains the findings of a parallel poll of students in the United States, showing a 12 per cent decline in interest in studying abroad among American students (to 44 per cent) despite a US government campaign to increase outward mobility. Perceived cost is the greatest deterrent among American students, and the report suggests that economic conditions may have dampened the normally buoyant demand for studying overseas. 

Dr Jo Beall, the British Council’s Director of Education and Society, commented:

“It is essential for the UK’s global competiveness that our next generation gain more international skills and understanding, so it’s very encouraging to see that more UK students are considering studying abroad.”

The results of the survey will be debated at our ‘Going Global 2014’ annual conference for leaders of international higher education, hosted in Miami next week.