Australia’s strict border regulations throughout the pandemic have meant that demand from key student markets for studying within the country has gradually decreased over the last two years. The subsequent decline of international students studying in Australia has not only impacted negatively on the cultural enrichment international students bring to local communities, but also on workforce shortages throughout the country, particularly in sectors such as hospitality, healthcare, and agriculture.
In our most-recent IQ scorecard - exclusively available to Core Members - we shared in-depth insights into what Australia’s border reopening to vaccinated international students may mean for other key study destinations and what practical steps can be taken to remain competitive. In this article, we’ll reveal select trends to give readers an idea of the insights available to subscribers.
Australia’s road to recovery
The welcomed announcement on December 15th by the Australian government to reopen its borders to vaccinated international students is already influencing student demand.
Our real-time IQ data, which tracks the search behavior of millions of prospective students, shows that share of demand for Australia in relation to other key destination markets has seen a recent rise after a two-year decline. While Australia’s market share is not quite where it was at the beginning of 2020, it’s certainly showing promising signs of an imminent recovery.
Canada appears to have benefitted the most over the last two years, with its market share rising from 17.5% in early 2020 to 23.51% at the end of January 2022. As Australia builds towards recovering its international offering, competing destinations like the UK, US and Canada will need to work hard to maintain their market share.
Where demand for Australia is coming from
Looking at student demand for Australia between October 1, 2021 and February 8, 2022, India has the highest market share, followed by Thailand and Indonesia. Competing destinations such as the US would do well to consider the sources of Australia’s rising demand and understand the needs of students within these source markets.
Our Crossroads survey series, which ran throughout the pandemic and showcased the motivations and perceptions of international students, indicated that a key driver for Indian prospective students was the availability of post-study work opportunities within the destination country. Institutions should thus highlight industry links connected to specific courses, showcase work placement support and share alumni success stories to increase their chances of winning over researching Indian students.
Pratibha Sen, IDP’s Associate Director for Australia (South Asia), has seen a positive reaction by prospective Indian students to the Australian announcement in December. She says, “With the recent border-opening news, we have witnessed a higher level of acceptances for offers, more inquiries from fresh students and a higher number of applications than previous months.”
“During the pandemic we saw a huge drop in student visa numbers for Australia; now we see the interest coming back. The additional post-study work rights, scholarships and quarantine-free travel are attractive for students.”
Most popular sub-discipline
Drilling deeper into our student demand data for the same period, Health and Medicine still dominates as the most searched subject area, with Medicine as the top sub-discipline for Australia. The graph below clearly shows how Australia’s border reopening has likely impacted demand for Medicine. Between October and September 2021, demand dropped dramatically, but by December, there’s a steady upturn.
These types of trends are likely to affect other key study destinations where sub-disciplines like Medicine are also highly sought after. Destinations like the US may need to consider extra campaign effort to maintain the interest of prospective students for high-demand subjects.
To remain competitive, American institutions should continue to engage with prospective students who may now be considering Australia by attending online and offline fairs, participating in school events, and attending in-office sessions with IDP.
Australia’s recovery won’t happen overnight. Just as the decrease in demand has been gradual over the last year, Australia’s rebuild is likely to also take time and patience. As a destination market, Australia will need to rebuild trust with prospective international students.
Our Crossroads survey series indicated that countries that have had closed borders during the pandemic have seen declines in student perception of international student welfare. This suggests that international students see open borders and the ability to study in-country as vital to international student welfare and may equate open borders to a welcoming international student experience.
As Australia stays open and welcomes more international students, perceptions are bound to improve alongside increased demand. This likely gradual recovery also gives competing destinations time to prepare and actively respond to emerging trends.
Explore more granular insights
Our IQ Demand Tracker tool gives subscribers access to detailed data insights like the ones shared in this article. These can help inform marketing campaigns and strategies. Subscribers have access to:
Real-time analytics allowing institutions to focus on demand trends such as region, city, subject, sub-discipline, study level and more to help accelerate and refine decision making
Increased competitor intelligence and benchmarking against self-selected competitor set to shape future recruitment and marketing strategies
Data visualization for all key international markets and IDP student placement analytics
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