Skip to Content

Sodexo launches International University Lifestyle report

YouthSight (now Savanta) have worked with Sodexo on their biennial University Lifestyle Survey every edition since the survey’s second outing in 2006. And here, we reveal some key findings from this year's report.

Josephine Hansom Managing Director, Youth 25 September 2017
Despite much being written about students’ living their lives online, one of the key insights for me is there is still clearly a need for buildings and services that help facilitate genuine human connections.

We are proud to continue our work with Sodexo on this, their latest lifestyle survey, the 2017 International University Lifestyle report.
Sodexo has been a major presence in the UK higher education facilities scene for many years, serving millions of meals on campuses in the UK.  However, Sodexo is truly a global business and their interest in student lifestyles is huge: the organisation serves 8 million students a day at 1,000 universities in 32 countries.  It’s, therefore, not surprising that our discussions with Sodexo moved to thinking about making international comparisons, not just reflecting Sodexo’s business interests but also reflecting the globalising nature of contemporary Higher Education.
The outcome of our discussions and Sodexo’s decision, is the first ever Sodexo International University Lifestyle Survey.  The fieldwork for the research was carried out in spring 2017 by us, YouthSight (which is now part of Savanta).  We surveyed 4,027 students from six countries, using online questionnaires. The sample included 1008 U.S. students, 1005 from the U.K, 507 from Italy, 500 from Spain, 505 from India and 502 from China, aged 18 – 25 in all years of study.

Nearly half of UK students admit to loneliness during their studies – with anxious UK students most likely to consider dropping out of university

Almost half of UK students (46 per cent) admit to loneliness during their time at university – compared to 32 per cent globally –  with UK students most likely – 37 per cent – to consider dropping out compared to their worldwide counterparts, according to a new global report by Sodexo. Study related problems caused 51 per cent of students to deliberate  leaving university and 42 per cent have considered dropping out because of physical or mental  health issues.
The world’s largest services company has released its first International University Lifestyle Survey, which can be downloaded here The report provides a unique insight into the lives and lifestyles of students across the world, polling over 4,000 students in six markets (the US, China, India, Spain and Italy, as well as the UK).
The findings support data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) which shows that a record number of 1,180 students left courses early in the 2014-15 academic year due to poor mental health – a 210% increase on 380 students in 2009-10.
UK students are more likely than the global average to believe their university would support them with their studies (68 per cent compared to 62 per cent globally), employability (59 per cent compared to 55 per cent globally) or their physical or mental health (56 per cent compared to 47 per cent globally).
The mounting cost of going to university is also a factor in the rise of student anxieties, with 60 per cent of UK students avoiding going out with friends to save money. Debt at graduation is a major concern for around a third of students, compared with a quarter worldwide.
More than half of UK students will have debts of between £30,000 and £59,999 by the time they graduate, compared to £11,345 in 2006 and £19,562 in 2010. In China, almost 70 per cent of students will have no debt on graduation; in the US, 35 per cent will be debt free compared to only 15% of students in the UK.
However, debt is not the only concern for UK students – 58 per cent of them worry about getting the degree class they want – the highest in all countries and the biggest concern for UK students. They are also more likely than average to be troubled by a heavy workload.
Damon Kent, Director of Campus Services at Northumbria University, commented:
“Despite much being written about students’ living their lives online, one of the key insights for me is there is still clearly a need for buildings and services that help facilitate genuine human connections. Many of the students referenced in the report note the importance of a ‘friendly atmosphere’ and also expressed concerns about loneliness, something that we shouldn’t be taking lightly.
“The report also revealed that over a third of UK students have considered dropping out.  We’re convinced that creating the right home-from-home living environment, in conjunction with strong pastoral services, is key to helping students manage some of the stresses and strains of university life and ensuring they have the best possible experience.”
Paul Anstey, CEO Schools and Universities for Sodexo UK & Ireland, added:
“Against the backdrop of uncertainty in the UK higher education sector – as universities adapt to the introduction of the Teaching Excellence Framework scoring system, the uncertainties of Brexit, a more competitive global higher education marketplace and a fall in UCAS applications for the first time in five years – Sodexo’s first International University Lifestyle Survey provides a unique insight into the current lives and lifestyles of students across the world.
“More worrying are the findings that point to a rise in mental health concerns for UK students and genuine concerns about loneliness, all of which are fuelling an increase in the number of students considering dropping out. In our Student Living by Sodexo accommodation business we are increasingly focusing on the ways we can support students to settle well into university and to provide the necessary support and signposting of university pastoral care if we can see that a student is finding life hard.”
The report can be read in full here