Survey of international students shows changing perceptions towards Canada and Covid policies.
The third instalment of IDP Connect’s International Student Crossroads Research, supported by the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), examined the attitudes and behaviours of more than 5,000 international students who hold current applications and offers to higher education institutions across Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
One key takeaway from the survey is that government policy and international student perceptions of how a country has managed the pandemic greatly impact how they view its attractiveness as a study destination.
The UK policy of remaining open to international students throughout the pandemic has resulted in increasingly positive sentiment toward the UK. The survey found that students’ perceptions towards Canada dropped when asked about the safety of citizens and visitors and the country’s overall response to Coronavirus.
Among the findings, there is growing acceptance of the measures put in place to mitigate risk, with over 90% of students willing to quarantine upon arrival, up from 72% in June, and 43% of students willing to commence their studies online before transitioning to face-to-face later in their course, up from 31% in April and 40% in June.
However, 44% of respondents stated that they would only be willing to wait 3 months before transitioning to face-to-face, highlighting students’ increasing preference and impatience to get on campus.
Positive news for institutions reliant on January intake is that increasing numbers of students in the survey are expecting to commence their studies as planned (80%), up from 69% in April and 74% in June. While there is a growing risk of students switching destination countries to order to begin face-to-face teaching earlier, overall, just under a third of students (32%) are highly likely to switch destinations with a further 24% likely to do so.
Simon Emmett, CEO of IDP Connect, said the research is a reminder of the ambition and eagerness of international students to pursue their lifelong goals.
“This year, international students have shown grit and resilience as they adapted their longstanding travel plans to accommodate COVID-19 challenges,” Emmett said.
“Our research has shown that students are increasingly determined to commence their studies as planned, the majority (44 percent) are only willing to study online before transitioning to face-to-face for up to three months. They are seeking solutions and want support from universities and governments to help get them onto campus sooner.
“We’ve also seen that there is a real risk associated with being perceived as a country that is less ‘open for business.’ Countries that have communicated strongly that international students are welcome, such as the UK, have seen a rise in attractiveness compared to countries with stricter border controls, such as Australia,” Emmett said.
Larissa Bezo, President and CEO of the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE), commented that “Canadian education institutions have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to care for our international students during this critical time. Canada’s international education sector is working hard to uphold Canada’s reputation as a trusted partner and desired destination for learning.”
Emmett also highlighted that educators and policy makers need to put themselves in the shoes of international students.
“International students – and their experience and knowledge – are incredibly invaluable to our communities, helping to create and maintain jobs across many industries.
“As the world rebuilds after COVID-19 and new study semesters commence, we encourage education institutions to continue to understand the concerns of their student cohort and work with governments to find new ways to deliver blended models of delivery and enable students to study on campus sooner,” Emmett said.
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