Quarter of school leavers and students plan to study abroad : 3 May 2012

Study abroad is becoming a popular destination for UK school leavers and undergraduates, according to a new survey1 by Graduate Prospects.

Almost a quarter (24%) of school leavers and students surveyed in March 2012 said that they plan to study abroad. 73% are either strongly interested or considering it and only 4% would completely rule it out.

The main motivations were cited as a desire for adventure or to build an international career (33% and 26% respectively). Almost one in ten (8%) respondents said they were unsatisfied with UK study, while nearly one in five (18%) thought getting educated overseas would be cheaper and 16% had considered it because of an institution’s reputation. 

When asked where they would consider studying, the most popular destinations were the USA and Canada (34%), while 28% cited somewhere else in Europe.

Graduate Prospects also asked students and school leavers if there was anything that would deter their decision to study abroad. A third said finance, 27% were worried about not having adequate language skills, and 14% thought that a qualification from an institution overseas may not be widely recognised by employers. 

Mike Hill, chief executive at Graduate Prospects said: 'There has been a lot of speculation around whether increased fees will provoke people to look further afield for their education, but what this study shows is that wanderlust is the biggest motivator and only a small number of people are looking overseas because they have become discontented with what’s on offer in the UK.

'Perception of the financial implications of study abroad is mixed. In fact, there are more people who are concerned about the cost of going abroad to study than there are those who see it as a route to a cheaper education. It’s clear that while there is considerable interest in studying overseas, there is limited awareness about what a first degree or postgraduate qualification from a country outside the UK really entails.'

Since Graduate Prospects launched its careers services for students seeking study abroad in 2009 it has had around 20,000 registrants. The first quarter of 2012 has seen a 14% year-on-year increase in visitors to the study abroad pages of Prospects.ac.uk.


1Graduate Prospects surveyed 500 school leavers and undergraduates about study abroad in March 2012. The sample consisted of: 13% A-level students, 55% undergraduate degree students, 8% postgraduate degree students, 11% seeking work and 11% in full time employment.


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