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Survey Reveals the Changing Landscape of International Applications

05/07/2013 11:14 BST | Updated 03/09/2013 10:12 BST

In the wake of actor James Gandolfini's death, Sky Atlantic broadcast four classic episodes of The Sopranos, one being 'College'. This episode sees Tony's personal and professional lives entangle for the first time while on a road trip to visit a college his daughter Meadow is applying to. Here, Tony comes across and murders a former mob boss-turned-informant. It's a game-changing episode in the programme's - and perhaps modern television - history.

However, according to a recent student survey and infographic, that episode would be very different if it was written in 2013 and Meadow was applying abroad; in fact, she is more likely to have applied online in her bedroom, while her dad sat downstairs watching old films and eating ice cream - no one would have to croak!

This is just one indication of the changing face of international admissions, and how students apply in the information age of the internet. In a recent study on applying abroad by Hotcourses, they found that 70% of students would be happy to find a course online, with over half comfortable to apply online too. Meanwhile 85% of all respondents said they would be happy to receive a response from a university they applied to via email, rather than through the more traditional method of delivery by post - an indication that the classic student-opens-a-letter-and-celebrates -by-the-mailpost scene will become a thing of the past.

The survey looked at how students applied to study abroad, who in their life/what content influenced their decisions, and their opinions of alternative study options. Following a positive response from the education community in the previous month, an infographic has now been released to appeal to students as well, detailing some of the key findings of the 5000+ international student survey. This comes at a key time, where perception of international study in the UK is less-than-spectacular due to changing immigration policies.

The impact of sites like YouTube and their facility to search and consume content in mere seconds was also underlined by this study. 70% said they found video content to be 'helpful' or 'very helpful' when making a decision where to study. Universities around the world would be wise to take note of this when developing their online presence (whether their website or social media). This also suggests that the days of students trudging around university fairs, picking up print prospectuses by the kilo, may be on the way out too.

What was featured in this video content was just as intriguing when answers were broken down by country. For instance, students in India and the Middle East said they would prefer to see an institution's facilities, while students in China and Vietnam would rather see a 'Day in the Life' of a student. In regards to how students initially search online, students from Malaysia and Singapore begin searching by course, whereas their Vietnamese counterparts will place more value on the university itself.

However, online is not pervading all aspects of further education. When it came to student experience of the course itself, students said they prefer to study at an actual campus than online (67% stating that they felt the standard of an online degree to be inferior to a standard campus-based course).

It appears that just as mob-life inevitably catches up with the characters in The Sopranos, the old ways of international admissions are eventually fitted with concrete blocks too.

What would you want to see in a video of a university you were applying to? How influential are your parents in decisions about your education? Leave your comments below.