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On November 25th we hosted an exclusive webinar for our Core Members, focused on key findings from the third installment of our series of International Student Crossroads surveys (read our Crossroads III press release here). As the largest survey series of its kind of international higher education applicants and offer-holders during the COVID-19 pandemic, our latest research headlines from Crossroads III have been featured in a variety of publications, including The PieStudy International and Times Higher Education.

In this post, we’ll share highlights from the webinar, which gave Core Members a first-hand and in-depth analysis of the results. The webinar was presented by Jonah Duffin, Director of External Relations, IDP Connect, and Claire Modlen, Market Intelligence Consultant, IQ Services, IDP Connect.

Core members who attended have been sent the recording of this latest webinar and can access later this week the latest Crossroads III research on current student findings in the Core Member sections of their MY IDP account. IQ subscribers can also access our Crossroads dashboards for further breakdowns and explorations of the survey data. Reach out to us for more information on this service at internationalclientteam@idp-connect.com.

Profile of survey respondents

Over 5000 international students who hold current applications and offers to higher education institutions across Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States participated in the online survey to share their perceptions and motivations around higher education. A section of the webinar was also dedicated to analysing the findings of the 15% of overall respondents who are currently studying at institutions. The majority of these respondents started their studies in September 2020. The high overall number of respondents who participated in this latest Crossroads survey is an indication of applicants’ and current students’ willingness to have their voices heard in the current climate.

Overview of Crossroads I and II

Jonah commenced the webinar with an overview of notable findings from the first two Crossroads surveys, focusing particularly on the stark contrast in attitudes between Chinese and Indian students. The research showed that Indian students were much less worried by the prevalence of COVID-19 in destination countries and more concerned about their return on investment and post-study work opportunities. Chinese students, in contrast, were much more risk averse with health and safety concerns being a priority. They were more likely to commence their studies at home and online.

Reflecting on perceptions around how destinations have managed the pandemic, Jonah indicated that the UK and the US were generally seen in the last two surveys as less favourable compared to other competing destinations. Indian student perceptions were, however, generally more positive than Chinese student perceptions and, interestingly, the actual commencement data for these two source markets to the UK this year reflected the trend with 85% of South Asian students commencing their studies onshore in the UK, compared to only 22% of Chinese students.

Study intentions and perceptions

Claire then turned the focus to current findings, looking at why respondents have halted their study plans and how likely they are to study internationally in the next two years. For the majority, uncertainty over safety and the ability to travel continued to be key reasons across all destinations. The majority of respondents indicated strong/ likely intent to commence their studies abroad within the next two years.

The next section was covered by Jonah who looked at how destinations have been perceived by respondents in their handling of the pandemic. While the UK and the US lagged behind other destinations for most categories in this regard, they led the charge for travel restriction policies. This indicates that respondents are recognising the efforts made by the UK and the US to remain open to students during the pandemic.

Jonah then gave insight into how these perceptions around the handling of COVID-19 have shifted across the three Crossroads surveys. While Canada, New Zealand and Australia saw slight decreases, the UK and the US both saw improvement with more favourable perceptions. He also gave an overview of how perceptions by Chinese and Indian respondents have evolved, specifically focused on the UK and US markets.

Looking to the future: study plans

Claire led the next section, looking at whether respondents expected to start their studies as planned. Across the three surveys, there has been a marked increase from 69% to 80% of respondents confirming they were indeed expecting to start their studies as planned. She then focused on the same question across three different intake date ranges, also noting a positive trend. The UK, US and Canada saw significant increases in the last survey related to expectations to start studies as planned, while New Zealand showed a negative trend. The Chinese and Indian markets were again considered in more detail with regards to expected study commencement plans.

In the next section, Claire highlighted that the desire to study face-to-face continues to grow with the majority of respondents willing to start their studies online with the intention of transitioning to in-person. Looking at undergraduate versus postgraduate respondents, both groups showed a willingness to start their studies online with the intention to transition to in-person. There were however clear differences between the two groups of respondents with how long they were willing to wait for in-person learning, before changing their destination choices. A growing number of respondents indicated a willingness to change destinations if face-to-face learning became available elsewhere sooner. Canada showed the highest level of destination loyalty, to which Claire shared a number of explanations.

Respondents also showed a strong preference to travel to their chosen destination and commence their studies online with smaller group sessions in- person, rather than starting their studies online in their home countries with the promise to commence offshore in-person at a later stage. Overall, there was a growing willingness among the vast majority of respondents to quarantine in order to commence studies offshore.

The current student experience

Jonah led the final section with an analysis of current student findings. Of these respondents, 85% are currently studying online and of those 60% will eventually transition to face-to-face learning.

He covered the different modes of study that Chinese and Indian students respectively are willing to accept and when respondents expect to move to in-person learning.

He also looked at how satisfied current students from different markets are with their study destination choices which factors are creating barriers to learning.

On December 3rd, we will be releasing Part 2 of our Crossroads III research focusing on current student perceptions and motivations. Follow our news section for all the latest updates this Thursday.


Jonah concluded the webinar with a summary of key points such as a growing acceptance of blended delivery models and more willingness to quarantine upon arrival at a destination. He then shared actionable takeaways with listeners centred on recommended student-focused communications, learning mediums, capacity considerations and more for institutions to implement as they look towards future recruitment.

To find out how you can get access to these exclusive webinars or to subscribe to our IQ data tools, please reach out to us at internationalclientteam@idp-connect.com.

For visual insights into our Crossroads III findings, click below.

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CP - Image - Franki
Franki Clemens30 November 2020