New Hobsons Research Reveals How International Students Feel About UK Universities Opening Branch Campuses in EU Countries Post-Brexit

Hobsons, which launches its International Student Survey 2017 this Spring, has today (Tuesday 21 March 2017) revealed initial findings on how international students feel about UK universities potentially opening branch campuses in European countries following the Brexit vote. The research surveyed 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 who 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.

Paul Raybould, Marketing Director at Hobsons EMEA, who trailed these findings on transnational education (TNE) at the Universities UK’s International Higher Education Forum, said: “Our findings are an early indication of how EU and international students could react if UK universities open branch campuses in the EU. The strategies that universities take to attract international students to the UK, or to new branch campuses overseas, should take into account the different perceptions and motivations of these different groups of students. Our International Student Survey, coming out soon, will explore this and other strategic issues in more detail. There is more research to do to uncover the opportunities and challenges presented by Brexit, as the negotiations develop and the UK’s departure is finalised.”

Jeremy Cooper, Managing Director of Hobsons EMEA, added that: “Nine months on from the EU referendum, the UK Higher Education sector still faces a period of uncertainty. British universities are great brands, and there is huge potential to evaluate and further develop the market for transnational education. By harnessing the power of data and taking a more strategic approach to international student recruitment, we believe that a step-change can be achieved in the success of universities.”

What do students think of the possibility of UK universities opening EU campuses?

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:

  • “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.”

Which EU cities would be an attractive location for an overseas campus of a UK university?

Survey respondents were also asked which EU cities would be their preferred locations for an overseas campus of a UK University. The top 3 cities were:

  • Paris
  • Berlin
  • Amsterdam

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

Hobsons supports its higher education partners as they help students to identify their strengths, explore careers, create academic plans, match to best-fit educational opportunities, and finish what they start. Through its various solutions, Hobsons enables thousands of educational institutions to improve post-secondary and career planning, admissions and enrolment management, student success and advising for millions of students around the globe. These solutions by Hobsons include Starfish, Radius, and Naviance.

To receive the full International Student Survey report when it launches, visit and follow Hobsons @HobsonsEMEA #HobsonsInsights to stay up to date.

For further information please contact:

Harry Padfield

Notes to Editors:

  1. *The survey took place during a 24-hour period (from 16 March – 17 March 2017) and surveyed the views of 949 international and EU students who said they were interested in studying in the UK or who had already enquired about studying at a UK university. 16,463 international and EU students were invited to participate. During a 24-hour period the response rate was 5.8%.
  2. **Percentages sum to 101% due to rounding.


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