International students are welcomed by their UK peers

11 September 2014 

Our new Education Intelligence research in to UK students’ attitudes to international students shows high levels of integration and acceptance. 

The research, Integration of international students: a UK perspective, published today, found that the majority (74 per cent) of UK students believe their international peers are welcomed by their fellow students. Seventy six per cent believe that the responsibility for making international students feel welcome to the UK is a shared responsibility for everybody. Only two per cent of UK students believe that international students do not belong in the UK. 

Almost one in five of all university students (18 per cent) in the UK have come from overseas, with the proportion rising to over a third (37 percent) at post-graduate level. 

The British Council’s survey of young people considering overseas study, Student Insight, has found that a country’s reputation for being a safe and multicultural society is an increasingly important factor when choosing where to live and study. The positive engagement of UK students with international students is therefore valuable in helping to lift overall sentiment towards a diverse, international student body, as well as the internationalisation efforts of a university and the UK as a whole.

Professor Rebecca Hughes, Director of Education for the British Council, said “There’s plenty of evidence that shows international students make a tremendous academic, cultural and economic contribution to the UK as a whole, but we wanted to know what UK students themselves think. It’s great to see that the UK’s young people are welcoming and willing to play a part in integrating our visitors into British life.”

Prof Hughes added “Young people today need to have a global outlook if the UK is to remain globally competitive, and people going to university this month will find themselves part of a very international environment. A university friendship between individuals can turn into a life-long relationship that benefits not just those friends, but also the UK economy, the culture of our towns and cities, our students on campus, and of course the international students who come here.”

British Council Education Intelligence Head of Research and author of the report, Zainab Malik, commented: “International students who connect with home students and faculty at an early stage are more likely to feel a sense of security and belonging, which can translate to academic advancement and personal growth. That feeling of contributing and belonging is what continues to draw so many international students to the UK.”