Study abroad continues to draw UK students

Thursday 28 May 2015

Our new student mobility research finds that over a third of UK students are interested in studying abroad. Half of students considering study abroad are considering studying at undergraduate level - a significant rise from 35 per cent a year ago. 

The research - Broadening Horizons 2015 - is a survey of almost 3,000 UK students and over 4,500 US students, with the aim of understanding the key drivers and barriers to overseas study, from the perspective of students. It builds on research carried out in 2013 and 2014 with the intention of tracking the views of students on international study over time.

For the 2013/14 academic year, 28,640 students went abroad to study, a rise from 18,105 the previous year. This is a significant increase, though UK outward mobility is still a fraction of the number of international students coming to the UK - 493,570* for the same year. 

The British Council's Director of Education, Professor Rebecca Hughes, commented:

"This latest evidence confirms that a growing number of the UK’s students are recognising the huge value to be gained from international experience. Our universities play an important role in supporting those ambitions. The UK needs graduates who have the skills and confidence to compete globally, and can compete against foreign talent that may speak more languages, and have wider international experience.

The barriers, real and perceived, to British students going abroad are gradually diminishing, and the UK’s Strategy for Outward Mobility is a very positive step in the right direction. The government, sector and industry all need to unite behind a move like this this to ensure that our next generation has the best possible opportunities to succeed in the future”

The research will be launched on Tuesday 2 June 2015 at our annual Going Global conference for leaders of international education in London. At the conference, the British Council and the UK Higher Education International Unit will share students’ own views on the impact outward mobility has on higher education in the UK, and review wider issues relevant to policy makers and institutions. 

For more preliminary insights from the research please see our press release.

Go to research.

*HESA data – includes EU and non-EU students, and study abroad students and ‘writing up/sabbatical students’