This year marks the 11th edition of the QS International Student Survey (QS ISS) – the world’s largest survey of prospective international students.
We spoke to QS Insights Manager, Alex Berka, about his work on the survey, its impact on the higher education sector and where and when you can expect to read insights and analysis from this year’s survey.
116,412 respondents from 194 countries and territories participated in the 2023 survey and shared their perspectives on topics including enquiry and application response times, communications preferences, which social channels they’re using most and the biggest influencers on their decision-making.
Can you tell us more about the QS International Student Survey and your role?
“The ISS is an online quantitative survey of prospective international students from all over the world. As the Insights Manager at QS, I manage the survey, determine the survey content and foster partnerships with universities who can then distribute the survey on our behalf to their international candidates.
It is also my responsibility to analyse and interrogate the data to establish the most important and relevant insights to bring to market. I then oversee the writing and delivery of a series of reports and presentations based on candidate views for a variety of key global study destinations.”
What do you enjoy most about working on the ISS?
“I first started working for QS in 2017, over a year after the Brexit referendum. I instantly recognised the need to highlight the student perspective in the ongoing Brexit debates and the potential for the ISS to provide a voice for international candidates – especially those from the EU. It’s so important to consider the student perspective in the context of globally significant issues and I love that the ISS gives me the opportunity to ensure the student voice is acknowledged – whether that’s on the influence of AI, the rising cost of living or something else.”
How would you say the ISS has evolved since you first began working on the series?
“I think the ISS has continually evolved and is constantly changing, as it should do. It’s so important to ensure that the questions we ask are reflective of the issues that are front of mind for international students and these will always be different for successive cohorts of students. It also means we’re able to talk to universities on the most up-to-date topics, helping their communication strategies to be more agile and responsive.
I think the other change is that the ISS has become a truly global survey in the last couple of years. We’re able to foster partnerships with universities in a larger number of locations now, most notably in Europe and North America. This has helped the survey to become a more reliable and authoritative indicator of international student sentiment and we’re always looking to enhance this further.”
Can you describe a time where the ISS had a significant impact on the higher education sector?
“The ISS and other QS surveys consistently show that students care deeply about safety, equality, diversity and the economy of the country they’re studying in.
“By closely observing and analysing what students care most about, we’re able to provide resources to better support students in their decision-making.
“It was largely because of the student demand for greater insights into a university’s social and environmental credentials that we launched the QS World University Rankings: Sustainability in 2022.
“We know from this year’s ISS that 41% of prospective students globally are now actively researching the environmental sustainability strategy and efforts of universities.
“Having this in-depth knowledge of what matters most to students guides our decision-making and enables us to support and provide relevant insights to the higher education sector globally.”
How can my institution receive a bespoke benchmarking report using ISS data in 2024?
We partner with universities across the world to invite students to participate in the QS International Survey. Those universities who partner with us receive a bespoke report specific to their institution. It’s 100% free to participate. Sign up today.
Can you explain when and where analysis and insights from the QS ISS will be shared?
We’ll be publishing the first in a series of regional reports highlighting the key findings from the survey from the end of August.
We’ll be starting with insights from students interested in studying in:
- Australia/New Zealand
- North America
Register your interest in reports understanding and analysing the perspectives of 115,000 students today.