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The current COVID-19 situation in India is a cause of great concern and our thoughts are with the country as a whole, as well as our Indian colleagues and students, as they face this difficult period.
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.
IDP Connect’s latest Crossroads research, surveying over 6000 prospective international students and due for full release on the 28th April, shows that Indian students with offers to study in the UK are overwhelmingly willing to quarantine, to be vaccinated and to be taught through a mixture of online and face-to-face teaching; in exchange for an in-country, on-campus experience.
The survey shows that 83% 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%) 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 93% 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% state that they are unwilling to pay the costs of hotel quarantine, 41% only expecting to pay a portion, and 15% expecting to pay the full cost. Of those who do not believe that they should shoulder the full cost of quarantine, 70% think it is the shared responsibility of the government and institutions to pay all or some of the costs.
IDP’s highly trained counsellors are in direct, daily contact with students holding offers to study in the UK and report high levels of interest in the UK as Australian borders remain closed but that this could soon change if students can’t see a clear route on to UK campuses in the Autumn.
This is a critical time for UK higher education. While we cautiously approach an end to COVID-19 restrictions, a key student market is undergoing a vicious resurgence of the COVID-19 threat that will disrupt student lives at home and their efforts to study in the UK. How the next few weeks and months are handled will have a significant impact, not just on the recruitment outcomes of the next cycle, but also on our relationship with the Indian student market for years to come.
It is vital that both institutions and the UK Government pay close attention to what students in India are telling us, using both quantitative and qualitative data to track in real-time how the situation is evolving and what Indian students need from us during this challenging time.
The IDP Connect Crossroads IV research released later this month will deepen our understanding of the unique motivations, concerns, and priorities of Indian students and we will continue to share our findings with the sector as we navigate this new challenge, and for personalised support our team is available to discuss our latest insights here.