Evaluating the experiences of mobility students in the UK, the International Student Perspective UK report published by the UK wing of the student organisation highlights changes in perceptions due to Brexit and the UK’s withdrawal from Erasmus+.
Germany, France, Italy and Spain represented just over a third of the 1,003 young people surveyed.
Some 46% had studied abroad in the UK, 34% elsewhere and the remaining 20% had not studied overseas.
Those respondents mobile in the UK were found to be more than twice as likely to rate both the availability and price of accommodation as “extremely” problematic, when compared with those mobile in other destinations.
Around a third of those studying in the UK said they “strongly disagreed” that they had received enough support from their host university in finding accommodation.
Positive findings from the research include that students were “generally highly satisfied” with the other support they received from higher education institutions and student organisations. A majority of 78.3% mobile students in the UK would recommend studying in the country to other students.
Language was considered the most important motivating factor for studying in the UK, it added.
Despite 30% of respondents saying they “strongly disagreed” or “disagreed” with that statement that their opinion of the UK had changed since Brexit, many mentioned it as a cause of obstacles.
The UK is generally viewed as a welcoming place for international students and significant interest in studying in the country remains, and yet “it is perceived as overly complicated and expensive to do so post-Brexit”, the report notes.
The need for students visas for those staying longer than six months is “seen as a major barrier, both financially and bureaucratically”.
Some 70.4% of respondents who entered the UK on student visas found getting a visa to be a problem, compared with the less than one-third who entered on a visitor visa saying the same.
“It feels as if the UK has taken a step away from the rest of Europe”
Respondents from the EU mentioned the need for visas, the inability to work, high living expenses and the finances required for bureaucracy and paperwork. The UK is “only for rich students”, one of those surveyed said, while another indicated, “It feels as if the UK has taken a step away from the rest of Europe and as such is less welcome to EU citizens”.
High costs of living and tuition fees “are also seen to be very off-putting to potential mobility”, with the lack of funding for inward mobility since leaving Erasmus+ making the “prospect of moving to the UK unattainable to many”, the report continued.
There is also a lack of awareness of exchange programs to facilitate mobility to the UK, it added.
Among those who had not studied in the UK, 53% said they did not know which programs were available in the country.