Exclusive content

Logged in users benefit from exclusive intelligence and analysis including premium reports, monthly source market information, on-the-ground intelligence, and IDP research.


Don't have an account? Register


Since IDP conducted a major global student survey with over 10,000 survey respondents in August last year, the Australian international education sector along with its key competitor destination markets have witnessed significant policy shifts. Chief amongst these were an assortment of government policy announcements across the UK, Canada, and Australia including a range of restrictions on post-study work rights, salary thresholds, proposed caps on international enrolments, along with increases to financial and English requirements. These policy changes across so many popular study destinations, alongside Australia’s long-awaited Migration Strategy in December created an unprecedented amount of noise, confusion and concerns amongst prospective students, parents and their counsellors.

The aforementioned Migration Strategy included several updates to existing migration policies which directly impact international students and their ability to pursue education and post-study opportunities in Australia. This included raising the financial requirements for student visa applicants by 17%, increasing minimum English language requirements, tightening age restrictions, and reversing the previously announced post-study work rights two-year extensions for certain degrees.

While the Australian Government hasn’t announced a cap on international student numbers like Canada, there are concerns the aforementioned changes could dissuade prospective students from pursuing their studies in Australia.

While the Emerging Futures 4 survey from August helped us to understand how prospective, applied, and current students felt about several aspects of their international education journey, including visa requirements and post-study work rights, the recent policy changes suggested an update on student insights was indeed warranted. As such, IDP conducted its Voice of the International Student Pulse Survey in late January 2024, to gauge just how much these policy changes had impacted students’ study abroad plans, as well as the reputations of leading study destinations.

In this blog, we will unpack data from both EF4 and the latest Pulse Survey to explore how much student desires and preferences have changed as a result of significant policy changes between August 2023 and January 2024.

Emerging Futures 4 – August 2023

Collating the views of more than 10,000 prospective, applied, and current students, our EF4 survey from August 2023 proved effective in showcasing the extent of Australia’s popularity with respondents.

Survey data showed Australia had become the equal highest-rated destination market, alongside Canada, with respondents considering it to be a ‘safe country for international students’, with a ‘high-quality of education’.

It also scored highly in several key areas, including ‘graduate employment opportunities’ and ‘post-study work policies’, with the latter being a particularly strong draw for respondents. In fact, roughly 68% of respondents looking to study in Australia said they would apply for a post-study work visa, compared with the 26% who said they weren’t sure, and just over 5% who said they wouldn’t apply at all. When asked what features of post-study work visa made it most attractive, over 63% said it provided them with the opportunity to acquire work experience in Australia.

Post-study work visas are undoubtedly a drawcard for those wanting to study Down Under. However, when asked if they would change their study destination if the length of Australian post-study work rights were shortened, most respondents (61.8%) said they would keep their plans in place, compared with just under 28% who said they might change, and roughly 11% who said they would definitely change plans.

Respondents seemed slightly less enthusiastic about the long-term though. When asked if they intended to seek permanent residency or citizenship in Australia, most respondents (52%) said ‘Yes’, while roughly 29% weren’t sure, and just under 19% said ‘No’. While there are slight differences, these responses aren’t as one-sided as those relating to post-study work rights, suggesting shorter-term options are more attractive for a greater number of international students than longer-term.

As previously mentioned, much has changed in the Australian international education landscape since August 2023, hence the need for an updated research report in the form of the Pulse Survey. From the perspective of IDP Connect’s CEO, Simon Emmett, “Policy changes, dynamic shifts within institutions and global economic conditions all have the power to affect a destination’s standings”.

With this in mind, just how much has Australia’s reputation as a top study destination been impacted by the aforementioned Migration Strategy?

Voice of the International Student Pulse Survey – January 2024

IDP’s Pulse Survey collated the views of more than 2,500 students from 67 countries in order to gauge their thoughts on sudden policy changes relating to the international education sector.

When asked which policy updates would have the most significant impact on their current, or future decision to study in Australia, most respondents (40%) indicated the reduced duration of post-study work rights, followed closely by just under 37% that indicated ‘the amount of savings required to be eligible for a student visa’ would have significant impact on them. When it came to which groups were most affected by the shortened length of post-study work rights, respondents from India were overwhelmingly the most prominent, whilst respondents from the Philippines indicated greater impact as a result of increased savings requirements.

Furthermore, nearly 60% of respondents said these government policy updates had a ‘high’ or ‘moderate’ impact on their plans to study abroad. Similarly, roughly 61% said the current cost of living crisis had had either a ‘high’ or ‘moderate’ impact on their plans. While these figures may cause some concern for the sector, the Pulse Survey also offered some relief.

Just under 80% of respondents looking to, or currently studying in Australia said their plans wouldn’t change in reaction to the policy updates. This far outweighs the students who said they were still unsure how the policy updates would impact them (11.3%), and those few who said they were now inclined to apply elsewhere (5.4%). Ultimately, a massive 90% of respondents from India said they were still willing to continue their studies, despite the policy changes occurring. Whether this excitement for continuing their plans for their studies abroad is sustained over the months ahead remains to be seen.

What does this all mean?

If the August survey showed respondents were heavily attracted to studying in Australia due in part to its favourable employment and post-study rights work policies, then the January survey showed most students will still keep their study plans despite the turbulence across said policies. And while most respondents said the government policy updates had a ‘high’ or a ‘moderate’ impact on their plans to study in Australia, data collected should reassure sector stakeholders that Australia has more to offer than just its policies, including its reputation as a safe country for international students and its high quality of education.

Furthermore, the fact that the vast majority of respondents from an established market like India said they wanted to continue studying abroad should also assuage any doubts that Australia’s reputation as a destination market has already been or will become significantly damaged by the Migration Strategy.

However, potential policy changes or updates in the coming year will still need to be monitored, and their impact surveyed in order for institutions to suitably adapt their recruitment processes. In early May, IDP will release the next Voice of the International Student survey (Emerging Futures 5), providing insights into nearly 11,000 survey respondents worldwide. IDP looks forward to sharing these insights and research with our clients and partners to inform your strategy.

If you are looking to utilise IDP’s suite of products, services, insights, and solutions to help supercharge your recruitment process then get in touch with our team today.

Get In Touch

Vincent Dwyer
Vincent Dwyer04 April 2024