Post-study work rights affecting UK higher education

10, March, 2015

The Hobsons University Conference, held recently in London, UK, discussed current trends in the UK’s higher education sector, the potential impact of the impending general election in May, and how the lack of post-study work rights is affecting the UK as an international study destination.

Duncan Findlater, Director Client and External Relations at Hobsons, presents survey data.

Speaking at the start of the conference, Paul Clark, Regional Director at Hobsons, said that the UK is currently facing a challenging time in its higher education sector due to issues like tuition fee increases, and that students are now considering Canada, Australia and Germany as potential HE study destinations.

As reported by Duncan Findlater, Director Client and External Relations at Hobsons, 20 per cent of international students considering studying in the UK are also interested in Germany due to the country’s cheaper tuition and post-study work rights. Approximately 50 per cent also consider the US, while 30 per cent are interested in Canada and Australia (percentages are approximations based on a graph).

The findings, taken from the International Student Survey report by Hobsons, which will be launched in full on March 19 at their International Higher Education Forum 2015 in London, showed that the lack of post-study work options is the most important factor for students choosing not to study in the UK.

The report showed that international students were declining in the UK, but up for the US, Canada and Australia. India, of which 75 per cent of students surveyed said that post-study work options are important or very important, has declined massively as a source market in the UK. Other markets, like South Korea and Pakistan, have declined not just for the UK but across all countries, with an increase in South Korean students attending private school meaning parents cannot afford study abroad.

Markets that are increasing in the UK include Brazil, due to the Science without Borders programme, Nigeria and Russia, according to the report.

The most important factor when international students were choosing between institutions was being able to get a job upon graduation. Second was face-to-face interaction with their course leader, and third was improving their future earning potential.

During the panel discussion, Emran Mian, Director of the Social Market Foundation, talked of how the UK’s general election will have a huge impact on international students, mainly with changes to tuition fees, postgraduate funding, immigration policy and post-study work rights. Mian expressed the need to continue bringing international students to the UK to plug the skills gap. 

Donald McLeod, Deputy Director of Marketing and Communications at the University of Hertfordshire, noted that ‘Brand UK’ is currently not very effective but that universities working co-operatively at international fairs will help to drive student acquisition.

In total, there were approx. 180 attendees from universities across the EMEA region at the conference, now in its seventh year. The event was rounded off by Hobson’s Innovation and Best Practice Awards which recognised and celebrated the work of their partners.






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