BH 15 Infographic
Broadening Horizons 2015: The value of the overseas experience ©

British Council

In the third annual report examining how UK and US students perceive study abroad, Broadening Horizons aims to understand the perceived drivers and barriers regarding overseas study, and how these are changing over time.

The latest report features research, including the responses of almost 7,500 UK and US students aged between 16 and 30 years, surveyed between March and April 2015. As well as identifying the main academic and non-academic drivers to overseas study, the report highlights key academic and non-academic deterrents. Cost and lack of foreign language skills were found to be among the biggest deterrents to study abroad for both UK and US students, although there were differences between the groups in terms of the factors considered to be more discouraging. The report also provides insight into student awareness of government-sponsored study abroad programmes, information sources used when considering overseas study options, and the perceived value of study abroad.

Given that both the UK and US have their own overseas study strategies catering to their countries’ unique outward mobility situation and experience, the report highlights some of the information gaps and perceived barriers which could be addressed to help encourage interest in study abroad.

Key Findings

  • Thirty-four per cent of UK students and fifty-four per cent of US students expressed interest in study abroad
  • The majority of UK students and US students not interested in or undecided about overseas study stated that they did want to travel and live abroad
  • For both UK and US students, the cultural experience of studying abroad was a significantly stronger driver than academic-or employability-related factors
  • Students who had previously studied overseas were more likely to draw links between employability and study abroad and want to live and work abroad
  • UK students were more likely to be motivated to study abroad by factors related to employability than US students
  • UK and US students who had previously studied abroad were less concerned about overseas tuition being high than those who hadn’t studied abroad
  • Costs, personal well-being and a lack of language skills were the main perceived deterrents to study abroad and the top concerns for those who aspire to overseas study for both UK and US students
  • UK and US students not interested in study abroad would most be incentivized to change their minds if they have help with funding and foreign language training
  • Forty-two per cent of UK respondents stated they wanted to study in non-Anglophone countries
  • Sixty-five per cent of US respondents were interested in non-Anglophone destinations
  • US students were more likely to be satisfied with the amount of information they had prior to making their overseas study experience
  • Thirty-five per cent of UK students and sixty-three per cent of US students who had already studied abroad knew about government-sponsored programs for overseas study

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