Brand USA and UK are most popular destinations for international business students

The USA and the UK remain the two most popular destinations for international business students, reveals the latest edition of the Business of Branding study by CarringtonCrisp in association with EFMD.

In the study, conducted amongst 1,211 students from 74 different countries, the USA was chosen by 62% of respondents, although was down 5% from the previous year’s study. Conversely, the UK (52%) had increased its popularity amongst international students, compared to the previous study (44%).

Following the USA and UK, the most popular study destinations are Australia (39%), Canada (36%), Germany (26%), France (22%) and Spain (20%). The top Asian destinations are Hong Kong and Singapore, both selected by 17% of respondents, followed by Japan (15%) and China (11%).

Andrew Crisp, author of the study comments: “While major events, like the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit referendum, play a part in influencing student decisions, the study reveals a wide range of factors that contribute to a country’s reputation as a study destination. These include cost of study, ease of access to study visas, the sense of adventure, and an attractive lifestyle.  Perception is everything and business schools need to understand how their countries are viewed in the competition for international students.”

Respondents were asked ten statements to gauge their perceptions of 16 different countries. The UK is perceived to be the most welcoming country for international students (74%), followed by Canada (65%), USA (64%), and Australia (62%).  India is viewed as the least welcoming (23%), along with Japan (28%), and China (29%).

A different picture emerges with respondents asked for their perceptions on how easy it was to get a visa for each country. Ireland is seen as the easiest (53%), followed by Germany (52%), France (48%), Canada (44%), and UK (44%). Conversely, the USA is in 11thplace (30%), with Japan viewed as the most difficult (16%).

The USA tops the list (75%) as the most expensive destination, closely followed by the UK (73%) and Switzerland (69%). The cheapest perceived countries are India (15%), Ireland (20%) and Spain (22%).

While it is seen as expensive, the USA is popular for offering a sense of adventure (78%). Australia is in second place (77%), with New Zealand (75%), Canada (72%), and UK (69%) also in the top five. Switzerland is viewed as offering the least sense of adventure (51%), along with Germany (52%) and the Netherlands (54%).

For an attractive lifestyle, the UK leads the way (76%), followed by Canada (75%), USA (73%), Australia (72%), and New Zealand (71%). Conversely, India (21%), China (23%) and Japan (43%) are viewed as offering the least attractive lifestyle.

Andrew Crisp concludes: “the study is a reminder to business schools that they need to capitalise on the positive perceptions of their country, when marketing to students. They also need to be aware of the negative aspects, ready to counter those with other messages, or go further and take action with other schools to try and address them.”


To be part of the next round of the Tomorrow’s Masters study, please contact

To find out more about some of the key findings in this year’s report, contact Andrew Crisp or Toby Roe for press.