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International students continue to rate the United States' quality of higher education favorably, however, competing nations are doing more to make students feel welcome and supported.

The Emerging Futures research, conducted by global education specialists IDP Education in August 2022, paints a positive picture for students and the global international education industry. However, with Australia once again welcoming international students onshore, the research shows that the US could do more to broaden its appeal.

The survey, which collates the views of more than 11,000 prospective students, applicants and current students, shows that while 38% of respondents are considering the US as a study destination, only 18% are selecting it as their first choice, down from 20% in the previous survey carried out in March 2022.

Jonah Duffin, Global Director of External Relations at IDP Connect, said the findings show that those countries that are able to demonstrate the welcoming and supportive nature of their country appear to be more attractive to students.

“The US has seen a small decrease in interest from students, while Australia has seen an increase. This is due to the fact that Australia is viewed as providing not only a high quality of education and clear career pathways, but also an increasingly safe, welcoming, and supportive place for international students to study.” Duffin said.

“We now have a global sector where all major English-speaking destination countries have open borders and attractive post-study work policies, and destinations are going head-to-head to attract international students. With more choice available to students, they are weighing up a number of factors across destinations. Countries who want to attract more applicants will need to demonstrate that students will be supported during a time when many nations are facing socioeconomic instability, and students are navigating new emerging challenges” he said.

For the first time, the research also looked at the experience of newly enrolled students, comparing prospective student expectations with the reality of studying overseas.

For students who have not yet commenced their studies, their greatest concerns included balancing part-time work and study, not having enough money and adapting to a new culture and way of learning.

Globally, current students feel positively about their study experiences, with 87 percent saying that the academic support they've received from their institution had met or exceeded their expectations and 89 percent saying the lifestyle had met or exceeded their expectations. However, nearly a fifth stated that their expectations around financial support had not been met.

The research also identified a correlation between poor mental health and students working either fewer than 10 hours or more than 40 hours every two weeks, as well as those living alone or off campus. Mental health issues were also impacting students’ ability to succeed academically, with nearly three-quarters stating that it had impacted their ability to study.

“Notably, the findings highlight the pressures students face when juggling studies and part-time work, as well as feelings of isolation. To help address this, IDP is committed to working with the sector to prioritize support for students so they can thrive in their studies and feel connected to communities,” Duffin said.

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The key findings from our Emerging Futures research II are available to download as an Infographic Report here:

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Jonah Duffin
Jonah Duffin20 October 2022