Prospects Luminate, a resource which offers information on careers guidance and the UK student and graduate experience, has released its Early Careers Survey 2023. This survey gives us a good look at which factors affect and matter most to domestic and international students in the UK, offering authentic “[s]tudent and graduate views on their career plans, the challenges they face, and navigating the changing world of work”. This is a very insightful tool which can help all involved parties in the sector decipher and understand which areas in the whole study and work process can be improved to give students and graduates a better overall experience.
An interesting finding from the survey shows that managing finances overtook mental wellbeing as the main issue faced by young people in the past year. More than half of participants (52%) said ‘Money’ was the biggest challenge of the last year, followed by ‘Balancing commitments’ (51%), ‘Taking care of my mental health’ (50%), and ‘Keeping motivated’ (48%) – these four held a clear lead over other concerns.
In terms of planning for the future, many plans have gravely changed over the past 12 months – mainly due to the rise in expenses and general cost of living. Because of this, student preferences have shifted accordingly and have been directed more towards practicality, like prioritising career for now or choosing more lucrative job opportunities. On the other hand, some claimed that they had more clarity regarding their career path, and others indicated that they were now open to a wider range of careers.
College and University Business Officers (CUBO) and Global Student Living (GSL) collaborated to produce a report using GSL’s large data source to give a high-level overview of the PBSA and University Accommodation sector. According to PIE News, CUBO and GSL surveyed close to 43,000 students – including 15,180 international students – across the UK and Ireland. They identified that international students are twice as likely as UK students to prioritise living on their own. To add to this, “international students are more likely to view accommodation as an important decision-making factor, it found, as it advised institutions to consider their housing options to meet demands from future students.”
Apart from housing concerns, the survey also accounts for other factors which affect students, such as homesickness, career-related struggles, and budgeting. Per demographic, there is a different response to each factor, which only tells us that thoroughly looking into which specific concerns have the greatest effect on various groups is more than worth probing. Having this kind of understanding allows those who are in the position to address these concerns to do so appropriately.
The International Higher Education Commission has created and published the “International Education Strategy 2.0” interim report which presents data and context about international education delivered by UK providers. Their goal is to “guide a revision of the UK’s 2019 International Education Strategy and a rethinking of the “one-off” model of such national strategies”. The ICEF Monitor says that they are “recommending a sharper focus on data-driven insights to guide the next International Education Strategy for the United Kingdom.”
Based on the report, Commission Chair Rt Hon Chris Skidmore, MP identifies which areas should be given attention in order to enhance the resilience of the UK’s international education sector. These areas include shifting and diversifying sending markets, streamlining the research talent pipeline and completion rates among students.
Additionally, there is a need to improve and standardise data collection systems to be able to generate data that can inform decision-making around international student recruitment. Establishing a structured method to collect data garners consistent and insightful results, and in effect, this detailed and data-driven analysis on the implications of various factors will help all stakeholders involved by serving as a guide to better understand and address student concerns and interests.
Mr. Skidmore adds, “Underlying all this, key to the ability to establish a coherent and compelling International Education Strategy 2.0, is the need for better data. We should not be reliant on one-off reports, as welcome as they are, to define the economic value of higher education to the country.”
Given all these results and information, we understand how vital it is to consider specific factors and aspects that affect different individuals on their journey abroad. From here, we know that accurate and efficient data gathering and analysis is key to interpreting, addressing and improving on whatever concerns are being brought forward. Coming from our standpoint, we ought to inform ourselves constantly about data and findings like these, so that we can provide the most excellent service for our stakeholders.