QS research reveals opportunities for European universities to celebrate and welcome international students
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QS research reveals opportunities for European universities to celebrate and welcome international students

QS research reveals opportunities for European universities to celebrate and welcome international students

European universities must rise to the challenge of changing demand from international students, according to a new report from QS – a leading global higher education company that provides university rankings and student recruitment, retention and international relations solutions.

The unique survey – the largest of its kind – spoke to over 75,000 prospective students globally from 191 different countries. The EU report focuses on the 23,600 prospective international students who claimed they are considering studying in the following European countries: Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Italy, Denmark, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Spain, Czechia and Latvia.

The report recommends that now is the time for the European universities to rise to the international recruitment challenge as open, tolerant and welcoming places to study. The EU report, launched yesterday, called Growing Global Education: Rising to the international recruitment challenge,
is the seventh iteration of the annual International Student Survey (ISS) by QS.

International student recruitment strategies and solutions at European universities should be informed by changing political dynamics

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Source: QS Enrolment Solutions

For prospective students considering a European university, one of the biggest concerns when choosing where to study is ensuring the country is welcoming to international students. According to this year’s ISS:

  • 59 percent of respondents said that how welcoming it was to international students was an important consideration when choosing where to study

With Brexit in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the US conveying a potentially negative message towards international students, European universities have the opportunity to send a contrasting message of being more welcoming and open.

It’s more important than ever for European institutions to listen to students’ communications preferences

This year’s research also found that European universities should adapt their communications strategies to maximise the opportunities to grow their global education offer.

  • 85 percent of respondents said that they used social media as part of their research process when choosing a study destination
  • Facebook’s dominance as the top social media platform for prospective international students is being
    challenged by Instagram and YouTube
  • For prospective students, social media is now the first point of contact for gathering information on a range of subjects, not just those related to their study decisions. Research found that 70 percent of prospective students use social media before finding an enquiry, up from 65 percent last year
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Source: QS Enrolment Solutions

The way that international students – like all members of society – seek information and use communications channels is constantly shifting. Whilst the use of social media has become more deeply embedded in the lives of prospective students, platform use is changing, with YouTube, Instagram and internet forums growing in use in 2019.

Paul Raybould, Director of Marketing & Market Intelligence at QS, said: “Higher education in Europe is experiencing a steady rise in demand thanks to its teaching quality and the student experience it can offer to prospective international students. In an increasingly competitive global market, graduate outcomes and skills are a key consideration for prospective international students who view their degree as a first-step to a long and fulfilling career.

“European higher education is world-leading for its ambitious education policies and the welcoming and dynamic environment it can offer prospective students. In the midst of uncertain geopolitical change and dynamics, European universities have the opportunity to rise to the international recruitment challenge as open, tolerant and welcoming places to study.”

Highlighting graduate employability could significantly increase the likelihood of prospective students studying at European universities

In an increasingly competitive global market, graduate outcomes and skills are a key consideration for prospective international students who view their degree as a first-step to a long and fulfilling career.

  • 68 percent of respondents said that an important career consideration is that they get international experience and have the opportunity to learn new skills
  • Respondents see problem-solving, communication and leadership skills as the most valuable attributes they could gain from their time at university
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Source: QS Enrolment Solutions

Highlighting their graduate outcomes and career prospects is vital for European institutions to stand out and grow their global education offer.

Petra Kammerevert MEP, Chair of the Culture and Education Committee in the European Parliament, said: “The 2019 edition of the International Student Survey (ISS) represents an invaluable tool, providing essential insight into the concerns and aspirations of tens of thousands of students around the world who are considering studying outside of their home country. In as much as I wish each and every of them a successful and gratifying stay abroad, I wish the ISS all success and many more editions to follow.”

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