5 facts about the British student who studies abroad
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5 facts about the British student who studies abroad

5 facts about the British student who studies abroad

More British students are going abroad than ever before. According to Universities UK International’s (UUKi) report, 18,510 UK-domiciled graduates have gone abroad for at least one period as an undergraduate, representing 7.8 percent of the 2016−17 graduating cohort. In the previous cohort, only 16,580 students did the same.

Historically a privilege left to a wealthy few, now more British students are able to reap the benefits of an international element in their higher education. They attain a more well-rounded skill set, improve cultural competencies and make global connections – the benefits of mobility are plenty and well-known by now.

But what about the British students who are spreading their wings across the world? Here are five facts and figures about the travelling British student today:

1. More underrepresented minorities are going abroad than ever before

This includes students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, black and minority ethnic (BME) students and disabled students. However, the remains a participation gap between BME and Asian students with their white counterparts.

“The mobility rate for white students (8.3 percent) was higher than for Asian students (5.5 percent)
and black students (5.1 percent). Students identified as having another ethnicity (including mixed) were
most likely to be mobile, with a mobility rate of 8.6 percent,” stated UUKi’s report.


Similarly, a participation gap also persists between more advantaged students and their less advantaged peers

2. Most are Erasmus+ recipients

More than half of British students abroad are in Europe for various periods and under the Erasmus+, the European Union programme for education, training, youth and sport

“For the 2016-17 graduating cohort, more than half of mobilities (54 percent) of eight weeks or longer were facilitated through the Erasmus+ programme,” according to UUKi’s report.

More than 600,000 British students have gone abroad through the programme since the scheme’s inception 31 years ago, making it one of the EU’s most successful initiatives.

3. Language graduates go abroad the most

Students of ‘languages’ make up just under a quarter (24.5 percent) of the 2016−17 mobile cohort.

As many courses include a period abroad to practise their language of study, it is unsurprising that they are Britain’s most mobile student. Another feature that makes this group notably different is that a large majority of language students are female compared to non-language students.

Subjects with the lowest proportions of mobile students – where mobility rates were 2.2 percent or lower – include social work, nursing, sport and exercise science, and computer science.

4. Students from Northern Irish institutions were the most mobile

Students from Northern Irish institutions were the most mobile (13.2 percent), followed by students
from Scottish (11.6 percent), Welsh (9.7 percent) and English (7.2 percent) institutions.

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Employers prefer graduates who have studied abroad. Source: Unsplash/Amy Hirschi

“Efforts are being made across the four nations to increase the number of mobile students: the Welsh government recently introduced a £1.3 million fund to further support international mobility from Welsh providers, and Scotland continues to offer a fee waiver for students who go on a year abroad,” the report noted.

5. They are mostly full-time students

Only 105 of the 18,490 part-time, UK-domiciled, first degree graduate respondents reported a period of mobility as part of their degree programme – this represents a mobility rate of just 0.6 percent.

Mature students also reported low mobility rates. Defined as 21 or over, only 3.4 percent or 1,480 of the 43,400 mature students in the 2016−17 graduating cohort participated in mobility. This is less than half the mobility rate of younger students (aged 21 below), which is 8.8 percent.

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