As the new academic year begins, the safety and wellbeing of students is a key concern for students, their parents, universities, and accommodation providers alike. While safety is important for all students, it is particularly important for international students.

Safety is so important for international students that safety considerations play a major role in students’ choice of study destination as well as being a major influence when deciding where to live, although there are variations across different student cohorts. As an example, a 2019 QS survey found that safety considerations (which extend to whether a country and a prospective city are welcoming to international students) were important for 55% of students when choosing a study abroad destination.

According to the QS survey results, for Chinese students, safety issues are even more crucial to the decision-making process, with 71% of candidates from China reporting that safety is their key concern, and more important than the cost of living (52%) and whether they will do well academically (49%). Safety considerations are less of a concern when deciding which country to study in for Indian students (53%), who are more worried about the cost of living (74%) and getting a job (62%).

When searching for somewhere to live, GSL Index 2023 Q2 data highlights that safety and security issues are a key influence for 71% of students, and even more important than budget (67%). For international students, safety is slightly more important, with 72% saying that safety influences their accommodation choice.

While Indian students are less concerned about safety when choosing their study abroad destination, safety is a critical concern when choosing where to live, even more so than for other international students. The GSL Index 2023 Q2 data highlights that 77% of Indian students reported that safety and security are important when choosing their accommodation. Safety also plays a major role in the accommodation decision for 74% of students from Nigeria, the UK’s third largest sending market. While safety is of paramount importance for students from China when choosing their study abroad destination, safety issues are not as important for students from China when choosing their accommodation (69%).

GSL Index data suggests that student expectations about both building and personal safety and security are largely being met. Eighty-one per cent (81%) of all students rate their personal safety as good or very good – while students from China (86%), Nigeria (89%) and India (86%) are even more likely to rate their personal safety positively. For 7% of students, however, personal safety is an area that they would pay more rent to improve.

Building security is an area where students are slightly less satisfied – 76% of all students rate building security as good or very good. However, this reflects a decrease in satisfaction levels from Q4 2022 when the figure was 80%. There is not a big difference between university and private halls – 77% of students in university halls rate building security as good or very good compared to 76% of those in private halls. Students from the UK are less satisfied with building security (74%) than international students (80%). Building security is an aspect of accommodation that 8% of students overall would pay more for an improvement.

This data highlights the importance for accommodation providers of highlighting all the measures in place to ensure student safety and security. The fact that at least one in five students feel that there is room for improvement on the topics of personal safety and building security highlights the potential gains to be made in terms of overall student wellbeing and satisfaction.

The upcoming GSL Live event will include a panel session on fostering supportive, inclusive and data-driven environments for student wellbeing as well as a Masterclass in designing the student wellbeing journey from booking and departure, but tickets are selling fast! Visit the GSL Live event page for more information.