What do Taylor Swift, guns and the English accent have in common?
By Ed Layt
A: They’ve all shaped the views of international students about studying at UK universities.
Okay, that’s still a little abstract, so let me explain…
At the CASE conference earlier in the month, we hosted a student Q&A panel, where conference delegates were invited to ask a selection of UG and PG international students a variety of questions. And it is fair to say this year, their answers were as eye opening as ever.
- Curiosity and wanting a different experience was key to choosing the UK. As was proximity to their home country. The English accent was also preferred to the American.
- The UK is still perceived as a very safe place to study. Particularly because of the lack of guns! This statement came from a Chinese student on the panel. It was also mentioned by a Chinese panelist around five years ago, so, it’s clearly a well held perception.
- Social media channels influenced our panelists’ university research, but agents, personal recommendations and the website are what mainly shaped decisions.
- The view of Theresa May is poor. She’s known as Aunt May in China.
- The language barrier is a major concern when choosing to study in the UK, as is the difference in the education system. There are opportunities here for institutions to look at how they can help ease these concerns.
- There are still a number of institutions that don’t have websites hosted in China – making it difficult for students to get the information they need.
- Most had issues when they arrived in the UK. From not knowing how to buy a train ticket, to not having anyone to welcome them.
- Despite negative press and uncertainty around Brexit, the experience of studying in the UK by all panel members was fantastically positive. Comments to describe it included: ‘liberal’, ‘free’, ‘non-judgmental’, ‘not too serious’, ‘amazing people’, ‘all individual’, ‘able, and ‘encouraged to have own opinion’.
This valuable insight shows the importance, to marketers, of speaking to your audience first hand, in order to understand the nuances in their expectations and needs.
Oh, and I almost forgot about Taylor Swift!
In a CASE student panel first, one student broke into song! The lyric summed up his aspirations of coming to the UK and studying in Birmingham... ‘
‘Someday, I’ll be living in the big old city’!
If you want to find out more (about the panel or international recruitment, not Taylor Swift), get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org