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International students – addressing their needs

International students – addressing their needs

Explain Market Research has conducted research with international students to understand their journey from making the choice to study in the UK, through to their experience of the onboarding process and how they chose accommodation.

Our previous blog explored the journey to making a decision to study in the UK and how they chose a university.

Our research highlights key touch points, where universities could more effectively engage with international students to improve experience.  

University accommodation – what was important  

When making the decision on choosing university accommodation over private accommodation we found that:

  • International students first port of call were university websites. Proximity to campus and cost of accommodation were key factors in the decision-making process
  • In most instances the accommodation met the expectation of the students on arrival, and offered good value for money
  • There were concerns over the quality of private rented accommodation and the process in applying and securing this.

University onboarding processes

  • Arriving in the UK and at university, international students’ experiences were mixed:
  • A number of students travelled with a family member to support the transition whilst some travelled alone
  • Students commented that there was no welcome from the university or initial introduction, there was an expectation that staff or fellow students would be on hand to support  
  • Information provided in freshers week was generic and not tailored specifically to international students – visa support and support on languages were expected
  • One student was very impressed with a meet and greet service from the university which took them from the airport to their accommodation
  • Scheduling of activities and timetables should be better coordinated and considered – at times the initial weeks were overwhelming whilst settling into UK and university life
  • International societies were viewed as positive, but with an expectation that universities should support this more and help onboard students.

University resources

Experiences on the quality of resources available at universities was again mixed:

  • Free Wi-Fi connection at university and in accommodation was a necessity and this was widely accepted as a basic requirement
  • Lecture and library space at times needed to be extended particularly around exam periods, there weren’t always computers available to use
  • When researching universities students looked at league tables and rankings based on resources and facilities – it was viewed as very important.

Making a difference:

There are distinct areas where universities can improve or support international students, these include:

  • In the study, university accommodation was the preferred route for international students. Understanding the international student journey when choosing accommodation will improve conversion rates
  • Onboarding and resources were areas where universities could improve, co-creative workshops with international students to review and refine international students’ needs would deliver positive results.

How we deliver meaningful insights:

Having worked within the education sector on projects including brand perceptions and reputation, student experience and most recently delivering online communities, Explain Market Research has developed a unique and relevant skill set pertaining to independent research and engagement within the sector.

We will help you understand how to engage to uncover insights from current and prospective international students and improve conversion statistics. We are a proud member of the Market Research Society, and adhere to their guidelines, and as a result our research is delivered to the higher standard in terms of ethical practices, commercial value and reliability. 

Why Explain:

  1. Independent: You can be confident that our advice will be impartial, open and focused on driving results to deliver a return on investment
  2. Bespoke solutions: Offering a range of research methodologies from the traditional to the innovative, always focussing on the best approach to deliver strategic solutions for you
  3. Research that unlocks insight: Delivering a range of research solutions to deliver insights including: brand and reputation management, student experience, brand awareness and perceptions, wider employee and stakeholder consultation and competitive intelligence research.

Our team at Explain Market Research are experts at putting in place research programmes to deliver against the changing needs of the sector. If you would like further information on how we could support your international student insight programme, get in touch with holly.shiel-redfern@explainresearch.co.uk