Choosing Universities Abroad

What Students Look for When Choosing Universities Abroad

Higher education analytics firm QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) recently published a report on what students in South Asia look for when choosing universities abroad. The report surveyed 29,000 students from across South Asia on their preferences when it comes to picking international universities

Cost and Funding

For the majority of students from South Asia cost of living was the number one concern when choosing colleges and universities to apply to. 67% of the respondents said the cost of living was their main concern and this figure goes up to 76% for students from Sri Lanka, 70% for those from India, and 63% for those from Pakistan. Consequently, the availability of scholarships and funding is also a major concern for students when applying abroad. In Pakistan especially this was the number one concern (66%).

Future Employability

The rate of employability was the next biggest factor for students from South Asia when choosing universities abroad with 58% of students citing it as their main concern. 55% of students said links to industry and information about work placements was the most important factor when choosing a university. In South Asia, this was the most important criterion compared to other regions of the world.

Teaching Quality

The quality of teaching was one of the top three factors for students from South Asia when it came to choosing an international university. 56% of students said this was their most important concern. Important factors when assessing a university’s teaching quality included up-to-date technology (63%), the university being nationally recognized for its teaching quality (59%), the university’s teaching staff (57%), and the university organizing work placement as part of the course (56%).

Environmental Sustainability

The next most important factor for South Asian students when choosing a university abroad was their environmental sustainability efforts with 51% of students saying it was a big concern. Interestingly, English Language course students and postgraduate research students were most likely to look at a university’s environmental sustainability efforts (55%). And 74% of students who looked into their university’s sustainability efforts said they were somewhat or extremely satisfied.

University Responsiveness

Prospective students said they expect a complete and personal response to their queries from universities within three days (66%). However, only 53% said they received a complete response from the university within three days. Email is the most preferred form of communication with 86% of students saying that’s how they want to communicate with their university, followed by WhatsApp at 67%.

International universities have to be cognizant of the type of messaging they are sending to international students. It is important that they stress funding and scholarships along with future work opportunities and highlight their teaching credentials when engaging with students from the South Asian region. 

Author, Fatima Burki

Fatima Burki is a graduate of the University of Sussex in the UK. A former editor at The Daily Times in Lahore and research editor at Imagination Publishing in Chicago, with 20 years of experience in writing and editing, Fatima currently works with students as an editor at Eye on Ivy.

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