International students in Europe are happier with their experience in Ireland as the UK comes last, findings show

Main complaints about the UK include high living costs, disappointing accommodation, and poor weather

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The Independent Online

Students from across the UK can bask in the glory knowing the country has some of the top universities in the world – can’t they?

Not according to online study choice platform, StudyPortals, which has revealed international students studying in Europe are the most satisfied with their university experience in Ireland – with the UK coming in at tenth place.

StudyPortals based its findings on over 17,000 reviews which were added to, its student experience website, from over the past academic year.

While Ireland has the happiest international student community in Europe, France came in last in the complete list of 18 countries – with an 8.23 satisfaction score – as complaints included poor student services at universities, as well as the excessive bureaucracy, said StudyPortals.

Irish universities were appreciated for their community atmospheres, innovative programmes, support structures for students, as well as their multicultural mix and vivid student life.

Although overseas students commended the UK’s tutors, teaching quality, and international recognition of their university degree, grumbles included high living costs, disappointing accommodation – and the ever unpredictable Great British weather.

Ireland’s Maynooth University was given StudyPortals’ top Outstanding international student satisfaction award, with the National University of Ireland, University of Limerick, and University College Cork all walking away with the Excellent prize.

Although no Outstanding honours, the UK received five Excellents – with Durham leading the way – and four Very Good nods, headed by Cardiff University.

StudyPortals CEO, Edwin van Rest, described how it is becoming increasingly important for universities to focus even more on making sure students have the best possible experience, especially with record numbers choosing to study abroad this year.

Highlighting how students are more critical now than ever about where they would like to get their degree from, he added: “In the long-term, university reputation is no longer enough to attract the best talent, and students expect their universities to also offer a good service level, a strong international community, promising careers perspectives and a return on their education investment.”

Despite a slight decrease on last year, international student satisfaction continued to remain high in Europe, with 86 per cent of students happy with their study abroad experience, compared with 89 per cent in 2014.