Crossroads 4 – International Student Intentions

International students remain willing to quarantine and get vaccinated to get that all important in-country experience

Aspiring international students remain committed to their global study goals and are willing to vaccinate and quarantine in return for on-campus study and the experience of living abroad, despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented.

Although the majority (75 percent) of students expect to commence their studies as planned, student confidence has dropped by five percent since the October 2020 study, suggesting some students are growing tired of the uncertainty and prolonged disruption.

While there has been much debate on whether an online offering can truly replace the on-campus experience, the survey findings reinforced that students want traditional face-to-face learning, with only 10 percent of students stating they will commence a course entirely online.

Demonstrating students’ resilience and willingness to compromise, 43 percent of respondents said they would start online only if the course later transitioned to face-to-face. While 31 percent of students said they would defer until face-to-face teaching became available, 11 percent remain undecided as to whether they would start online or wait for face-to-face and four percent Worksmart Add New Serviced Office Space in Warringtoner cent will withdraw their application if the situation does not improve.

Respondents stated the lack of international experience was the key factor stopping them from commencing the online-only study, and 39 percent of students reported they were likely to switch destination if it meant they could access face-to-face learning earlier. Furthermore, 30 percent of respondents said they would switch destinations to undertake face-to-face teaching even if this meant forgoing a scholarship offer.

The findings form part of the fourth instalment of IDP Connect’s International Student Crossroads research, which examined the attitudes and behaviours of international student applicants and offers holders as well as current students.

The latest research surveyed more than 6,000 respondents from more than 57 countries, all of whom hold aspirations or current applications for studying at higher education institutions in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The study also found the majority of international students (55 percent) have revealed they will get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, suggesting destinations that insist on vaccinations were not deterring students. A further nine percent have already been vaccinated and 30 percent remain hesitant, stating they need more information about the vaccines before taking their next steps – highlighting a communications priority for governments and institutions. The remaining 6 percent stated that they are willing to wait until Vaccine Passports are no longer needed.

Student perceptions of the destination countries were also tested and overall, Canada received the highest rating – particularly for its policies for international students and post-study work visas, while the US continued to lag in last place. New Zealand was rated as having responded best to the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by Australia. The UK was perceived to be the middle of the pack in almost all categories.

Andrew Barkla, CEO of IDP Education, said although the results only showed a marginal decline in students’ confidence in being able to commence their studies as planned since October 2020, countries that were lagging in catering for international students needed to move swiftly.

“Urgency is key. Countries such as Australia need to give students reassurance and outline a roadmap for how international students are able to enter the country safely and commence on-campus learning, and a timeline for a return to face-to-face learning,” Mr Barkla said.

“The research clearly shows that an online offering cannot replace the on-campus experience, nor is it what the majority of students want.

“Students have shown a real willingness to quarantine and vaccinate and are open to starting their studies online. This flexibility and commitment should be repaid with clear and welcoming policies that acknowledge their enormous contribution to the Australian community.

“Canada continues to set the tone in its progressive policies and communication with students, but this approach can be and should be adopted by all major study destinations.

“As countries recover from the impacts of COVID-19, study destinations must be able to articulate their unique education offering in order to remain competitive on the global stage,” Mr Barkla said.

Key UK findings:
• Of the respondents who selected the UK as their first choice, 65 per cent stated they did so due to the high quality of education available, a higher percentage than any of the other destination countries
• At the time the survey was carried out students did not, however, see the advanced progress of the COVID-19 vaccination program as a key factor in their decision to study in the UK
• Of those who had withdrawn their application to study due to COVID-19, the UK had the second highest number of applicants (53 per cent) who stated that they would likely reapply in the next two years, compared to 48 per cent for Australia and 41 per cent for Canada
• The UK Government announced this week that India is to be added to the Red List of countries from which arrivals into the UK are required to isolate and quarantine in designated hotels at their own costs. With large numbers of students due to arrive into the UK in September to commence their studies, there is a need for the sector and the government to make plans that facilitate their safe arrival as research shows that the promise of an on-campus study experience is crucial to Indian students.
• The survey shows that 83 per cent of Indian students with an offer to study in the UK in the autumn expect to commence their studies as planned. However, when subsequently questioned on their attitudes to teaching delivery, over a third (37 per cent) of these current applicants stated that they will defer entry until face-to-face becomes available. When later asked whether they would commence their studies if it meant travelling to the UK and then having their teaching delivered through a mixture of online and face-to-face an overwhelming 94 per cent of Indian respondents stated that they would commence their studies under these circumstances.
• We know from previous surveys that students are willing to quarantine, with 92% happy to do so. However, in the latest survey 44 per cent of Indian respondents state that they are unwilling to pay the costs of hotel quarantine, 41 per cent only expecting to pay a proportion, and 15 per cent expecting to pay the full cost. Of those who do not believe that they should shoulder the full cost of quarantine, 70 per cent think it is the shared responsibility of the go.

About IDP Connect
IDP Connect is the strategic partner of choice for institutions seeking access to engaged student communities. As part of IDP Education, the world leader in student recruitment, IDP Connect uses its global expertise, data-driven insights and trusted human connections to match universities, schools and colleges with the right students from around the world.

Powered by the world’s most expansive omnichannel platform, we bring institutions to life, from academic offerings to campus experiences and beyond. Through our unmatched physical office network, websites, apps, and virtual counselling solutions, students from all corners of the world form our connected community, along with our expert team of trusted education advisors, and our partner institutions.

IDP Connect’s IQ services offer a helicopter view of the global higher education landscape, using the world’s largest combined data set of student demand. From initial online search, through to application, offer and enrolments, we are able to track global student demand through the full funnel and in real-time, helping institutions to address the key challenges faced by higher education.

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