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New Generation of University Applicants Strive to Become Global Citizens

New research carried out by QS with students worldwide explains the growing importance of international study. Although students in different regions have different motivations for studying abroad, they all agree on one aspect – developing global communication skills is key.

Benefits on studying internaitonally

It’s perhaps unsurprising that students from developing parts of the world are keen to learn from abroad, graduate from a reputable university and get work experience overseas. However, this is no longer just the pursuit of those from Asia, Latin America and Africa. Students in Europe and the US are equally interested in broadening horizons, becoming part of diverse communities and learning from other cultures. This could be a direct impact of globalisation, given the way businesses are becoming more connected and international, in turn increasing the demand for globally-minded graduates.

Our research, based on ~60 focus groups and over 1,800 survey responses, finds students commonly cite the following three factors when comparing universities abroad:

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Indian Students Are Increasingly Struggling To Stand Out

As part of our quest for more qualitative research about international students’ motivations, we visited one of the key student recruitment markets – India. Did we learn something new about the way Indian students select universities abroad? Certainly. Did we confirm some of the stereotypes that already existed? Somewhat.

Let’s start with a stereotype that we have found some evidence for…

1. Indian students’ parents are actively involved in their educational and career choices.

Although this is still the case, it would seem the attitude here is shifting. A number of students have told us that their parents will actively and sometimes inevitably give them advice on what to study and which countries/universities to target. What’s unclear is just how much influence this actually has on their decisions. When we probed students further on this topic, they would often say that they feel they have to consider their family’s views even if they don’t always agree or feel they have the most relevant experience to be providing advice on the matter but would then seek advice from elsewhere.

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First-Impression

Are you making a good first impression?

If you belong to a university concerned with international student recruitment, this article is for you. If your institution isn’t concerned with international recruitment yet, but you’re aiming to become a world-class university, the ability to attract the highest quality candidates from all over the world is probably going to be on your agenda soon…

QS spent four months travelling around the world, speaking to prospective international students to learn more about their motivations when applying to universities abroad. More specifically, we wanted to find out just how much first impressions matter and what would turn a student that’s never heard of your university into a student who will apply tomorrow and just how long that transition takes. We’ve met students from the Americas, China, South East Asia, India and Europe and asked them a series of questions around their first interaction with a university online and in person.

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Latin American students are committed to improving their countries

This year, QS started an insight project into the motivations of prospective international students. The first few places we’ve travelled to have all been in Europe and just last week we went truly global – having taken a 12 hour flight to Mexico City.

Mexico City is notorious for having some of the busiest international education fairs, as is Bogota, so that was our destination number two. Naturally, visiting only two out of 20 countries in the region doesn’t give us the authority to speak for the whole of Latin America, but it did provide us with a very interesting taster. We further suspect our findings might be somewhat reflective of the Latin American spirit, as Colombian and Mexican students seemed to have one thing in common – they both feel really strongly about improving their respective countries.

Interacting with students from these countries was indeed eye-opening, as we just hadn’t expected them to be so different from European students.

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Emerging Europe and Central Asia Ranking – The Significance?

In December 2014, QS published the first edition of the Emerging Europe and Central Asia (otherwise known as EECA) regional ranking. New? Definitely. Interesting? Certainly. Unexpected? Not at all.

I, myself, come from Eastern Europe and so have first-hand experience of education in that region. Whilst I haven’t studied at a university there, I received primary and best part of my secondary education there. I therefore know that there are very few parts of the world as thorough and as methodical in their teaching philosophy as the educators from Emerging Europe and Central Asia. If there’s one thing this says about them is that these nations take education very seriously and have a thing or two to share with the rest of the world. […]

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Elsevier renews agreement to support QS on rankings activities

Partnership between Elsevier, a world-leading provider of information solutions, and QS began in 2007. We are delighted to announce that we have just made a decision to renew our long-term collaboration! QS was the first compiler of global university rankings to use data from Elsevier’s Scopus, the world’s largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed academic literature, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Scopus data is used for almost all of our rankings, starting from QS World University Rankings to our regional rankings, including the new initiatives such as the Arab and the EECA rankings.

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Why do students want to study abroad?

Studying abroad is a wonderful, professionally and personally enriching experience. It’s no wonder it’s becoming increasingly popular, with numbers going up from 2 to 4 million students in just the last decade. But what is it students are looking for overseas?

Just in March we interacted with over 500 students from Italy, France, Moscow and UK, with the intention to find out what they value in a university. We were particularly intrigued to see if there’ll be any variation by country.

This is what we found:

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Rankings – What Do The Students Think?

We were celebrating the 10-year anniversary of QS World University Rankings® last September, marking 10 editions of one of the most sought-after rankings in the world. Who’s interested? Academics, university leadership, media organisations, governments – and, of course, students.

Whilst it may be evident that rankings are growing in popularity and influence (QS is certainly not the only organisation to produce rankings either) and although we know millions of students consult the rankings every year, it is unclear how they use them and just what the impact is. Given the primary audience we compile our rankings for is prospective international students, we set off on a research project to answer these questions.

This new report initiated by the QS Intelligence Unit, unambiguously titled ‘How Do Students Use Rankings?’, explores student motivations when selecting a university, with a view to better understanding the role rankings play in the journey from being a perspective student to becoming a graduate.

How important is the rank of an institution compared with other factors such as course specification, location and student experience?
• Why study abroad and in an internationally recognised institution?
• How are you choosing what and where to study?

These are some of the questions we asked the students we met at QS international education fairs. The trends presented in the report are primarily based on a series of 11 focus groups held in London, Paris, Milan, Rome and Moscow, involving a total of 71 prospective students. We additionally ran a survey, collecting 519 responses, which allowed us to provide a balanced perspective based on a mix of qualitative and quantitative data.

Our findings were enlightening, yet completely in line with what one would expect to be on a prospective student’s mind. Whilst students shared a variety of ways in which they use the rankings and a wide range of priorities, when we pushed for the ‘absolute’ driving motivation, they overwhelmingly gave the same answer…

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The role of a university – Kazakhstan and beyond

Whilst the responsibility of a university has always been more than simply educating its students, it’s only recently we began to realise the wider impact universities do and should have on the society around us.

The role of a university is changing
Working in a company that provides insight into university performance, helping higher education institutions from all over the world, this is especially evident. Not so long ago, universities didn’t particularly concern themselves with equipping students with employability skills, as their main function was seen to be providing quality education and ensuring high academic attainment. Now, we expect the best universities to provide tailored careers advice and develop their students not only as sharp critical thinkers, but as skilled future employees too. A recent report produced by QS, How Do Students Use Rankings, further supports this by finding employment prospects to be the leading factor in university choice. This means that it’s not only the biggest concern prospective students have today but also an expectation – attending a top university leads to becoming a highly employable graduate.

Conference in Almaty aimed at bringing universities, science and business closer together
Just a week ago, I visited one of the top universities in Kazakhstan – Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU). They invited QS to speak at a conference they ran titled ‘Integration of Education, Science and Business’. This was a fantastic initiative and a very important step in any nation’s development. As you can see from the below photo, it generated a lot of interest and was attended by a number of staff, political representatives and university leaders from other Kazakh institutions.

The conference room.

The conference room.

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What’s the impact of globalisation on student choices and universities?

Whether a prospective student is looking to study maths or Chinese with German, one factor they will need to consider is how well the degree they select will develop their international outlook. Of course there will always be careers one can pursue upon graduating that are within organisations operating locally, rather than nationally or internationally.[…]