High spending Chinese students shun UK

Press Release, 15 January 2013, ExEd Survey

 High spending Chinese students shun UK

Two new surveys published today show that 2 in 5 high value Chinese school students have ditched the UK as their preferred place to study in favour of other places such as the US, Canada and Australia.  The surveys will add to the concern about the drop in the number of applications to UK universities from international students.

The surveys were commissioned by Exporting Education UK (ExEd UK) and conducted by OC&C Strategy Consultants. The first survey of Chinese high school students on British education courses in China examined their decisions around where to undertake higher education. The second survey examined the spending of international students while in the UK.

The first survey revealed that over the last 12 months only 60% of those Chinese high school students who previously preferred the UK as a destination for university still do. The key reasons for switching from the UK included recommendations from friends and/or family members (mentioned by 51% of those students who had switched), recent changes to visa regulations (46%), recommendations from school counsellors (38%) and the weak economic outlook in the UK (30%).

Evidence from the second survey concerning the spending levels of international students while in the UK make this even more worrying since the Chinese students are revealed as amongst the highest spenders. Chinese students said they spend £543 per week compared to £252 for UK students. Respondents to the survey said they spend on average approximately £15,000 per year while in the UK – broken down into £9,400 spent on accommodation and utilities and £5,600 per year on food, entertainment and other expenses.

The survey also shows that each student typically has 3.3 visitors per year. Figures from the Tourism Alliance show that Chinese visitors typically spend £866 per person per trip, substantially higher than the average spend of £580 per person, equating to an average visitor spend of £2850 per student.

Commenting on the findings, Graham Able, Chairman and founding member of ExEd said:

“This is very serious news for UK plc. The UK should be viewed as a prime destination for Chinese and international students, but instead these high value students are opting for other countries in significantly high numbers. With an average annual spend of £15,000 per student and approximately £2850 in spend by their visitors they are a crucial asset to the UK economy.”

Fraser White, Executive Chairman of Dulwich College Management International and founding member of ExEd, commented:

“UK education is one of the few areas of the UK economy where we still can boast world leading brands such as Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial UCL and the other Russell Group universities.   What is particularly concerning is that the survey shows that In China our universities are losing out to other markets.  Even those Chinese students who have chosen British curriculum courses in China which prepare them for UK universities, are choosing alternative overseas markets such as the USA, Canada and Australia for their tertiary education.  What is particularly worrying is that once we lose these students to universities in our competitor markets we lose not only the direct benefit of the GBP 14 billion a year which these international students contribute to the economy and the additional high spending accompanying visitors to the country but far more damaging to our future is that we lose the long term bond, which an education experience creates, between the UK and what will be one of the most important economies in the world.  This concrete link with the Chinese business and political leaders of the future will not easily be recovered.”

Mark Jeynes of OC&C Strategy Consultants, who conducted the survey, said:

”Whilst the UK continues to be the second most popular destination for international students, it is clear that UK universities continue to face fierce competition from higher education institutions in other Western markets, most notably the US.  The fact that a high proportion of Chinese high school students who previously preferred the UK as a destination for higher education study are now targeting other markets represents a real ‘wake-up call’ for the sector and the government.”

 

Notes to Editors:

The surveys were commissioned by Exporting Education UK (ExEd UK) and undertaken by OC&C Strategy Consultants. The first survey of 537 Chinese high school students on British education courses in China examined their decisions around where to undertake higher education. The second survey of 639 international students studying at institutions in the UK assessed their spending patterns while in the UK.  Both surveys were conducted over the period November 10-25, 2012.  Further detail from the surveys is available on request.  Further information about OC&C can be found here: www.occstrategy.com