Many UK universities are considering the possibility of opening EU branch campuses in response to Brexit, but how do international students feel about this?

In our latest #HobsonsInsights research we surveyed 949 international students who were already considering applying to study in the UK, and found that:

  • 76% of EU students said that if a UK university opened a branch campus in an EU country other than their own they would be very likely or somewhat likely to study there (23% very likely, 53% somewhat likely, 16% not likely, 9% not sure).
  • 69% of Non-EU students said that if a UK university opened a branch campus in an EU country they would be very likely or somewhat likely to study there (32% very likely, 37% somewhat likely, 17% not likely, 14% not sure).
  • 58% of EU students stated that if a UK university opened a branch campus in their home country they would be very likely or somewhat likely to study there (28% very likely, 30% somewhat likely, 36% not likely, 6% don’t know). A significant percentage however (36%) said that they would not be likely to study there, suggesting that they would still prefer to study in the UK or elsewhere, away from their home country, to have the full international study experience.
  • 42% of EU and Non-EU students stated that they would have a much better perception or a better perception of a UK university if it opened a branch campus in an EU country, while 42% said this would make no difference to their view of the institution (17% much better perception, 25% better perception, 42% no change, 6% worse perception, 1% much worse perception, 9% don’t know).

The findings suggest that many international students, that are considering studying in the UK, would welcome the option of studying at a UK institution’s branch campus in an EU country, but away from their home country, so that they still benefit from the full experience of international study. However, the research also suggests that a significant number of international students considering studying in the UK, would not choose to study at a new branch campus in the EU, suggesting that they would still prefer to learn in the UK.

As part of the survey respondents were asked for their thoughts on UK universities opening branch campuses in EU countries. Some students gave favourable comments on this:

  • “It would show people that the school values great students regardless of their nationality.”
  • “Being International is important and opening campuses in EU cities would support this.”

Other students gave less favourable comments, highlighting the fact that they really want to study in the UK:

  • “I want to study in the UK and not anywhere else.”
  • “It seems like a profit driven ‘brand expansion’ which dilutes the power of a brand in the long run.”

Survey respondents were also asked which EU cities would be their preferred locations for an overseas campus of a UK University. The top three cities that respondents mentioned were:

  1. Paris
  2. Berlin
  3. Amsterdam

The top 10 also included Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, Brussels, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Milan.

For more #HobsonsInsights download a copy of the 2017 International Student Survey report at www.internationalstudentsurvey.com/2017.

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