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Why International Students Decline Your Offers

As part of our work with clients, we ask students how they arrive at decisions about their offer. Decline, defer, undecided, accept – we like to know why. Naturally, this type of information helps our clients refine their marketing. Below is some top-level data on why students decline in favour of another institution and how factors are prioritised by region of the world. We hope you find this useful too as you target your marketing.

But first, some quick context behind the data.

This analysis was pulled from a sample of over 600 reasons students gave for declining their offers to enrol at another institution. In some cases, students will indicate more than one reason for coming to their decision.

Interesting findings:

  1. The availability of scholarships is stated the most among African students, but programme/module content is a very close second priority
  2. Academic reputation is a more influential factor among Asian students
  3. Staying close to family and friends ranks high among Europeans

Now, let’s dig in a bit.

Top 5 reasons students decline and accept elsewhere – Africa Africa

Scholarships is the key deciding factor, but programme and module content is just behind. A focused effort on explaining the value and expectations of your programme in parallel to scholarship opportunities could serve to improve engagement with this audience.

Top 5 reasons students decline and accept elsewhere – Asia


Academic reputation takes greater priority among Asian students. Emphasising the quality of your institution and your programme beyond what can be quantified in a league table could help students have a more balanced understanding of all you have to offer.

Top 5 reasons students decline and accept elsewhere – Europe


Staying close to family and friends ranks high among Europeans, so it’s worth reassuring students with information about your holiday breaks and various travel options from your campus that will allow them to stay well-connected to their friends and family back home.

Now, we’ve only just scratched the surface here but we hope this gives you some food for thought as you plan your international marketing. To discuss more of our data and insights on student decision-making, feel free to contact us.