By: Dustin L. Gee
When you hear the word “Scotland,” what’s the first thing comes to mind? Is it the world famous St. Andrew’s golf course, the rugged Highland Mountains, or perhaps it’s what lies underneath the famous Scotsman’s kilt!
Either way, one thing is for certain, Scotland is growing in reputation and quickly becoming known for more than just a great holiday destination for tourists, but rather an inspiring place for talented individuals to pursue a wide range of higher education degrees.
In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by I-Graduate titled “Tracking the University and College Experience in Scotland: What do International Students Think?,” Scottish education institutions are without questions leading the way in providing the best living and learning experiences for International Students.
I-Graduate states, “the purpose of this study is to give a snapshot view of what international students in Scotland think is important and find out how satisfied they are with their experience.”
A total of 5,680 student responses were received from seven participating universities and ten participating colleges, which represents approximately 14.1% of the international student body population in Scotland.
More so, the students who took the survey were asked questions that allowed them to reflect on their first impressions of Scotland upon arrival, the learning experience, the student support services offered at their institution, and the living experience.
Each student response was then compared with results from a 2006 study and also against two groups of competitors; the rest of the United Kingdom and a European grouping that included: Germany, Belgium, Republic of Ireland, and the Netherlands.
The results are in and the British Council is pleased to announce that 86% of university students and 85% of college students in Scotland would recommend their educational experience to others. Of this group, 39% would actively recommend that others study in Scotland. This shows an increase from the 33% figure that was calculated in 2006.
Researchers for I-Graduate, Neeta Barot and Felice Nightingale, stated in their summary of the survey, “91% of International Students think Scotland is a good place to be. This compares with 86% in the rest of the United Kingdom and 87% of students in Europe.”
In general, students rate learning and living in Scotland better than in the rest of the United Kingdom and Europe.
Better yet, Barot and Nightingale noted, “90% of students claim they are satisfied with studying with expert lectures, feeling safe and secure, the surroundings outside the university or college, and course lectures.”
Noticeably, Scotland has quite a lead on the rest of the United Kingdom and Europe, but this lead is earned, not owned, and others have the potential to catch up quickly.
For this reason, the survey was also meant to identify areas that Scotland universities and colleges need to work on to develop in order to retain and keep attracting students. The major concerns stressed by international students were issues with opening a bank account, accommodation costs, living expenses, and meeting students from Scotland.
The task now is for Scottish universities and colleges to work on addressing and improving these concerns and troubles for international students.
The web-site for the British Council assures all current and prospective international students, “ Scotland has been leading the way in education since the early part of the 15th century and though constantly evolving, our approach remains focused on the needs of the student, and is designed to create time and space for individual development for breadth as well as depth of study.”
Overall, the survey provides valuable information and insight that Scottish universities and colleges can use in order to make sure Scotland remains the leader of the pack.
Most importantly, universities and colleges should acknowledge and take pride in the fact that Scotland is ahead on most measures of the student experience, despite student expectations are changing, and that it is imperative for us to keep our eyes and ears open to student feedback and opinions.
To learn more about this and other studies conducted by I-Graduate, please visit the British Council web-site at www.britishcouncil.org/scotland