Many of us are aware of the growth in the number of international students at UK universities - indeed, we recruit more foreign students than any other country apart from the US, and they now make up 18% of the student body.
International students are worth an estimated £10bn or more a year, but surprisingly little research has gone into the educational benefits that they bring, or what home students think of studying alongside people from other countries - until now.
Last month, YouthSight and the Higher Education Policy Institute surveyed 500 UK university applicants, and found that:
- 87% believed having foreign students on their courses would give them a better world view
- 85% said that studying with international students would help prepare them for working life
- 76% welcomes the chance to develop a worldwide network of contacts
- 68% hoped to practice foreign language skills
- 67% did not expect international students to lower the quality of academic discussions
- 42% said students with English as an additional language would not slow down classes
The strategy of attracting the brightest and best from abroad seems to be working - over the last few years there has been an 18% increase in the number of visa applications from those going to universities, and a 30% rise for the elite Russell Group universities.
Nick Hillman, director of HEPI, called the results 'overwhelmingly positive' and prove that today's school leavers 'truly are tomorrow's global citizens.'