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New research reveals one-third of prospective students are open to reconsidering their preferred study destination as policy changes take place in destination markets.

Changing policy environments are impacting decision-making for students across three of the top destination markets of Canada, Australia and the UK, according to The Voice of the International Student Pulse Survey, conducted by international education specialist IDP Education in January 2024.

The research, which collated the views of more than 2,500 prospective, applied, and current international students from 67 countries, reveals that the changing policy environment in key destination markets has impacted the appeal of leading study destinations.

Simon Emmett, IDP Connect Chief Executive Officer, said the changes in the global higher education market are impacting decision-making, as the research indicates international students are seeking stability when looking into opportunities to study abroad.

“For a prospective international student, choosing to study overseas is one of the most important decisions of their lives and they want certainty when making these decisions,” Mr Emmett said.

“Our latest survey has identified that changing policy, regulations and restrictions are impacting the dynamics of student movement, with students open to changing their preferred study location.

“As key destinations apply more restrictive measures and barriers to entry for students, the study destination choices will shift accordingly, presenting an opportunity for other study destinations,” he said.

According to the research, the USA has been the largest beneficiary, and is now the most attractive destination for international students who are reconsidering where to study.

“Over the past 12 months, Australia, Canada and the UK have been in the spotlight in relation to their policy changes and the impact these changes would have on international students, and the USA has benefited as students begin to look for alternative study options,” Mr Emmett said.

“This latest pulse survey highlights that international students are highly attuned to the ongoing discussions regarding policy changes, and that this is impacting the standing of the top global study destinations at a time when competition between destination countries is at an all-time high.”

The UK’s standing among international students has been the most impacted by the changing policy environment, with nearly half of the prospective student cohort (49%) reconsidering or unsure of their plans to study there. This is higher than the number of students reconsidering or unsure of their plans to study in Australia (47%) or Canada (43%).

The reconsideration of the UK, Canada and Australia as preferred study destinations is a clear indication that policy changes affect international students’ perceptions of a destination.

Tennealle O’Shannessy, IDP Education Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, said this research highlights the importance of equipping students with information about policy changes in their selected destination before they submit applications so that they can avoid lengthy and costly application processes.

“Students should be armed with all the information they need to make an educated decision on where they are choosing to study to ensure they have every opportunity to succeed while living and studying abroad,” Ms O’Shannessy said.

“IDP will continue to work with students as they embark on their international education journey to ensure they understand possible impacts of policy changes in their desired study destination and can make the right choices.”


About IDP Education’s research

IDP’s Pulse Surveys are focused mini surveys as part of our ongoing research to amplify the voice of international students globally. Pulse Surveys aim to capture the pulse of current trends, awareness and perceptions in the moment as complementary research to our larger student surveys such as Emerging Futures. For more information about the International Student Pulse Survey results, follow IDP Connect’s LinkedIn.

About IDP Education

IDP is a global leader in international student placement and a proud co-owner of the world’s most popular high-stakes English language test (IELTS).

IDP is listed on the Australian securities exchange (ASX:IEL) and has 6800 employees across more than 30 countries. Its websites attract 100 million visits a year.

We specialise in combining human expertise with digital technology to help people get accepted into their ideal course, take an English language test or learn English in their schools. Our teams work side-by-side with our customers, at every step from course search through to starting their dream course or career.

We partner with more than 890 quality universities and institutions across Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Our data insights are relied upon by organisations around the world to help ensure policies are informed by the diverse needs, challenges and motivations of students.

Media contacts:

Annie Collison – Porter Novelli


+61 406 080 356

CP-people-Joanna Storti
Joanna Storti29 February 2024