Most international students worried about cost of living

Vietnamese students the most concerned with the cost of living and course fees, while Nigerians most worried about immigration process

December 9, 2023
Source: iStock

The majority of international students in some of the UK’s key recruitment territories are worried about tuition fees and the cost of living abroad, according to a survey.

The report by Oxford International Education Group (OIEG) suggests mounting cost pressures could make UK higher education less competitive internationally. For the study, commissioned by OEIG, THE Knowledge Partnership surveyed about 500 prospective and current students from India, Nigeria and Pakistan – which are some of the largest contributors of overseas talent to the UK – along with Vietnam.

Their main concerns about studying abroad were financial, with 57 per cent concerned with the cost of living abroad and 51 per cent concerned with tuition fees.

Other key concerns were around the immigration process (42 per cent) and adjusting to another culture (33 per cent).

The data suggests that economic incentives are fundamental for students when considering the UK as a place to study, although these differed across the four countries.

Vietnamese students were the most concerned with the cost of living and course fees, while Nigerians were most worried about the immigration process.

Lil Bremermann-Richard, OIEG’s chief executive, said: “In a competitive global economy, the UK cannot afford to take international students for granted.

“Without a better international higher education strategy, the UK risks losing its status as an international education powerhouse if the toxic immigration debate surrounding international students continues.”

The report comes as the UK announced it is to review post-study work visas – the latest in a series of new restrictions on international students.

Ms Bremermann-Richard said the UK must compete with rivals such as Australia, Canada and the US, which are putting policies in place that welcome international students.

“This means making sure that programmes and systems are in place to make it as easy as possible for students to move and study in the UK from application to accommodation,” she said.

The survey, which was conducted in the summer, found that the UK scored highest for the quality and reputation of its universities, but performed poorly on affordability and ease of access.

Overall, 61 per cent said the country’s institutions have a really good reputation – well above the US and Australia (both 50 per cent), and Canada (44 per cent) – and 60 per cent said the quality of education is among the best in the world, which was also the highest.

But the UK ranked lowest for how easy it is to obtain a visa, and second lowest for the affordability of course fees.

Lord McNicol of West Kilbride, an OIEG higher education advisory board member, said international students enriched UK society, provided financial resilience for universities and boosted the UK’s soft power status.

“We must listen and learn from students to ensure the sector can continue to be a beacon for global excellence,” he said.

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Reader's comments (1)

The tuition fees is an eye watering £21,000 plus for some courses. Plus students need to have at least £10,000 to live on for a year in the UK. How can they afford this? No wonder they are concerned.