The International Student Barometer (ISB) is one of the largest surveys of its kind and aims to increase knowledge about international students’ experiences of studying at Stockholm University. The results of the survey provide valuable information about how the University can improve in relation to international students.

Global survey

In the autumn of 2015, an invitation to participate was sent out to international students at the University – both exchange students and free-movers in their first and second year of study. By participating in the survey, students had the opportunity to provide the University with feedback relating to instruction, reception, career support, environment, the quality of education, etc.

378 international students from Stockholm University participated in the survey, and the total number of respondents was 142,445 international students from 18 countries, 17,157 of whom came from Europe. As many as 89 per cent of students responded that they were satisfied with their stay at Stockholm University, and 83 per cent said that they would recommend the University.

Stockholm and the website important in the choice of study destination

When it comes to the choice of study destination, 91 per cent of the students responded that Stockholm as a city and Stockholm University as a higher education institution were the main reasons they chose to come here. This separates Stockholm University from the rest of Europe, where the average for the choice of city is 78 per cent, which indicates that both the University and the city of Stockholm attract international students. Other important factors for students when deciding where to study include the selection of courses and programmes, the cost of living, career opportunities, research areas, student life, and opportunities to get a scholarship.

The first point of contact with the University is the website, but recommendations from friends and advice from family members are also important for the students’ decision. Family is also the main contributor when it comes to financing the studies, but scholarships are important as well. However, it is more difficult for international students to find work in Stockholm so that they can support themselves during their studies.

Highest rating for welcoming

Stockholm University’s welcoming of international students receives the highest rating. 86 per cent are very happy with how they were received, and the University is ranked at the top when compared to other European universities. It is a positive development that the numbers relating to welcoming have increased from 53 per cent in the survey that was carried out in 2010. Students are particularly satisfied with the formal welcome, the departments’ information and orientation around campus, as well as Internet accessibility. Students experience difficulties opening bank accounts, finding Swedish friends, and finding accommodation, which is a difficulty for all in Stockholm.

Moreover, the application process in Sweden takes longer than in other European countries, which can make students choose other non-Swedish universities. An application takes approximately 85 days to process at Stockholm University, compared to 50 days in Europe and 46 days globally.

High quality education

83 per cent of students are satisfied with their studies at Stockholm University, which is ranked at the top when it comes to the English proficiency of academics. The quality of lectures, class sizes, and study support are also perceived as good. However, students would like more information about assessment criteria and feedback on their results, and they believe that the link between research and education needs amplification.

Furthermore, students lack career support, opportunities for contacts with the labour market, and advice on what career opportunities they have after finishing their studies – a factor that is also important in their choice of study destination.

Nice environment and an international university

The University’s campus environment receives high marks, and students are very happy with the University’s facilities when it comes to lecture halls, laboratories, the library, online services, and places to eat on campus. The student health service, IT support, and the quality of housing receive high marks as well, while the cost of living in Stockholm is too high, which makes many students reject Stockholm after finishing their studies, and the difficulty finding work during their studies is perceived as negative.

The University is perceived as international, and classes as multicultural, which is positive; on the other hand, it is difficult for international students to make new acquaintances with Swedish students. More social activities and sporting opportunities are also desired.

All in all, the University is perceived as a good place to study, and the transportation opportunities to and from the University are also perceived as good.

Development work within the University

During April and May, the results of the survey are presented to University staff in order to focus on areas that can be developed based on the students’ valuable feedback. Since Stockholm University has participated in the survey in 2010, 2011, 2013, and 2015, the presentations include comparisons with results from previous years, as well as the University’s work to improve its operations for international students.

Stockholm University is grateful to all students who participated in the survey and gave the University valuable feedback.

More information

For more information, please contact Helene Komlos Grill, Project Manager for International Communications at the External Relations and Communications Office.