The Business of Branding, which surveyed 1,211 students from 74 different countries in late 2017, found that interest in the UK increased from 44% to 52%.
The UK is also perceived to be the most welcoming country for international students (voted by 74%)—followed by Canada (65%), USA (64%), and Australia (62%)—and the country that offers the most attractive lifestyle (76%)—followed by Canada (75%), USA (73%), Australia (72%), and New Zealand (71%).
The US and the UK remain the most popular destinations for international business students, although strong interest in the US (62%) dropped by 5% in the past year.
“While major events, like the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum, play a part in influencing student decisions, a wide range of factors that contribute to a country’s reputation as a study destination,” explains Andrew Crisp, the study’s author.
“Perception is everything and business schools need to understand how their countries are viewed in the competition for international students.”
Two years on from Brexit, and it seems UK business schools have not suffered as some might have predicted. Following the US and UK, the most popular study destinations among internationals are Australia (39%), Canada (36%), Germany (26%), France (22%) and Spain (20%).
The top Asian destinations are Hong Kong and Singapore, both selected by 17% of respondents, followed by Japan (15%) and China (11%).
Indeed, China still has some way to go in attracting international students to its shores—voted the third least welcoming country (only 29% of respondents deemed China a welcoming country), eclipsed only by India (23%) and Japan (28%). India (21%), China (23%) and Japan (43%) are also viewed as offering the least attractive lifestyle.
More than Donald Trump himself, visa issues may be a key factor putting internationals off studying in the US. The US was deemed only the 11th out of 16 countries for ease of access to study visas. Ireland is seen as the easiest (53%), followed by Germany (52%), France (48%), Canada (44%), and the UK (44%).
The US also tops the list (75%) as the most expensive destination, followed by the UK (73%) and Switzerland (69%). The cheapest perceived countries are India (15%), Ireland (20%) and Spain (22%).
“The study,” says Andrew, “is a reminder to business schools that they need to capitalize on the positive perceptions of their country, when marketing to students.
“They also need to be aware of the negative aspects, ready to counter those with other messages, or go further and take action with other schools to try and address them.”