Dirk Mulder on where international students are seeking to study


It’s where they are welcome and can take classes in-person – which isn’t here

IDP’s Crossroads IV survey of approximately 6000 prospective international students finds 75 per cent expect to commence studies as planned.

Which is good news for Canada, the UK and other countries where they are welcome, thanks to open borders.

Overall, 10 per cent are willing to study fully on-line, a further 31 per cent say they will defer until face-to face is available, while another 43 per cent of students are willing to commence online if they can later transfer to face-to-face.

Spot the problem for Australian institutions – there isn’t a date set when this will occur and so students are looking elsewhere.

Specifically, about Australia, IDP found;

* 7 per cent of students will continue with their study plans, even if programmes/courses are fully on-line, compared to 13 percent for Canada and 11 percent for the UK

* 38 per cent of students will continue with their study plans, even if programmes/courses start on-line, as long as they transition to face-to-face when the situation allows. The comparable figures are 51 per cent in Canada and 50 per cent in the UK

* 43 percent will defer until they can study face-to-face, compared to 24 per cent for Canada and 27 per cent for the UK, (where they do not need to).

The take-out is that students looking to study in Canada and the UK are much more likely to commence on-line and transition to face-to-face, while those interested in studying in Australia are much more likely to defer until face-to-face becomes available.

But the longer this lasts the harder it will be to hang on.

This lean to Canada and the UK is echoed in the Navitas Agent Perceptions Report (March 21), in which countries that remained open to international students fare much better than those that didn’t.

Canada and the UK are top of the pops for interest. This makes sense. It has been both Canada and the UK that have maintained their willingness to keep borders open and welcome students when times were tough.

At the bottom of the pile are Australia and New Zealand which shut the door and are keeping it closed. While New Zealand has announced some plans to return continuing students there is no clear political or public health pathway here to bringing internationals back.

Navitas reports the largest jump in interest is for the United States. With President Trump gone, vaccinations happening, COVID-19 numbers seemingly under control and generally a move to a more open society, this makes sense.

The interesting, and most concerning part of the report for Australian and NZ providers is the countries in the middle.

Singapore, Netherlands, Germany and the UAE (Dubai) all posted significant increases interest. We have known the ambitions of Singapore and Dubai in creating knowledge attraction centres for some time but they have largely been overshadowed by the major Anglophone destinations. With some destinations still deciding what to do, this could be their chance.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent


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