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Increasingly positive sentiment toward the United States and perceptions that it provides the highest quality of education globally is driving increasing numbers of students to choose the US as their study destination.
Canada remains the number one destination of choice for students with 26% of respondents stating it was their first-choice destination. However, this was followed by the USA (20%) and then UK and Australia in joint third place (19%). The US is also the leading second-choice destination for those intending to study in both Canada and the UK, suggesting that there is further opportunity for the US to grow.
Student perceptions of the leading destination countries are driving the choice of destination, with Canada ranking number one on key factors such as graduate employment opportunities, post-study work polices and welfare, while the US is perceived as offering the highest quality of education. This is further reinforced by the data: when asked why they chose the US as their preferred destination, 70% state that is due to the high quality of education, with this figure rising to 81% among Indian respondents and 84% for Vietnamese respondents. Those who chose the US as their second preference did so because they felt the cost of living was too expensive and the tuition was too high, although safety was also a concern for students from China, Indonesia and Vietnam.
The research also highlights that best practice in post-study employment opportunities can lead to long-term gains for the students and the receiving countries. Alongside quality of education, post-study work opportunities are the key driver of choice. Almost two thirds (63%) and just over half (52%) of respondents stated that these were the reasons behind their first choice. However, the survey results made clear that students will only be tempted to change their initial destination country of choice if offered better scholarships, guaranteed employment post-graduation and lower fees.
Jonah Duffin, Director of External Relations at IDP said, “The growth in interest in the US, driven by the perceived high quality of the education, is good news for the US. However, in my nearly twenty years working in this industry, this is the most competitive I have ever seen the global marketplace, with countries looking to not only grow international student numbers but also to diversify the countries they recruit from. Intelligent, data-driven and targeted student recruitment strategies will be important in growth. In addition, the United States must communicate the value and return on investment of a US education to students who perceive it to have high costs associated with both tuition and living.”
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