Best In Scotland: Understanding International Student Experience

Michal Shimonovich

Leading across Scotland in a wide range of student support services. University of Edinburgh scored highly for international student services in the results of the most recent International Student Barometer survey, which is sent to students each October.

By Michal Shimonovich

Getting results

The goal of the survey, conducted annually each October, is to gauge insight into international student satisfaction, support, arrival and experience at the University of Edinburgh.

Student responses showed a university where many of the international students had a positive experience both upon arrival and throughout their course and would recommend the University. The sentiment is made more credible by the rise in response rates this year; 47% responded to the survey compared to 23% and 24% in 2014 and 2013, respectively.

Competing against the Russell group

Some of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) include teaching and University reputation, living experience and our support services. The results of these KPIs are benchmarked against global experiences and experiences at other universities in the UK. We can also see how the University of Edinburgh performed compared to the six other universities in Scotland that take part in the ISB and the sixteen other members of the Russell Group.

The overall experience of international students at the University of Edinburgh was to be the best in Scotland, with more saying they would recommend it than in any other university in Scotland. The satisfaction for living experience at the University was the 6th highest among Russell Group universities and first for in the UK.

Meeting our KPIs

The value of research-based postgraduate programmes was largely due to faculty reputation. University staff ranked highly, with 96% of students being were satisfied with the expert lecturers at the University, and 89% pleased with the course content.

International students noted their appreciation for the accurate and well-defined course descriptions, allowing them to choose ones that best suited their interests.

Many of the indicators improved from the 2013/14 academic year to the 2014/15 academic year by 1% to 3%. The course content and the learning support provided were also satisfactory among international students.

The ISB is just one way that staff members, including academic, administrative and support-service staff, can understand some of the issues international students face, and Edinburgh staff are encouraged to workshop and develop solutions that will improve the student experience. For example, international students have, over the years, noted that work opportunities during studies are limited. This motivated the University of Edinburgh Careers Service to establish Employ.ed on Campus, which provides internships within the University for second and third year students throughout the year and over the summer.

The ISB survey runs each October, with results circulated to universities in the following January.


Michal Shimonovich is part of the Editorial Team at Edinburgh Global. When she’s not trying to scoop out the latest going-ons of the international community in Edinburgh, she’s waiting for an hour online outside Mary’s Milk Bar. Worth every minute.