Record numbers of international students are moving to Canada, the UK and the US despite the pandemic, but Australia and New Zealand continue to see a sharp drop in new international students. New research from the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University reveals this fact. The report examines five major destinations for international students to choose from: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US. It revealed that the first wave of the pandemic has resulted in a sharp drop in new international students. But countries that have opened their doors to international students have made a strong comeback.
The research reveals a complex situation where the pandemic affected international students around the world differently. The number of new students from China is still lower than before the pandemic. But from some of the source countries like India and Nigeria, the numbers are at record levels. International education is an important part of knowing how many countries manage investment in their education sector. The report re-emphasizes that countries are emphasizing on attracting international students.
Students made a tremendous comeback as soon as the borders opened
The report examined student visa data to understand the impact of the pandemic on potential international students. Student visa data is a leading indicator, as most students usually require a visa before enrolling. The investigation revealed that the number of new international students has declined in all countries as a result of the pandemic. But some have been affected more than others. Britain has made the strongest comeback. Its number of new international students is at a record level – 38 percent more than pre-Covid. An examination of the decline in new student visas issued in 2020 shows that Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US have registered a decline of more than 80 per cent.
Canada, the UK and the US had returned to record levels of data available on student visas by the September 2021 quarter. This can be good news for countries like Australia and New Zealand. Seeing the rapidly increasing number of international students in Canada, UK and US, it seems that students waiting for the borders to open, have moved to these countries as soon as the borders are opened. In such a situation, it seems that there should be an increase in the number of new international students traveling to Australia and New Zealand if possible.
Indian students beat China
Programs held in their own country for students looking to study abroad were also instrumental in influencing decisions during the pandemic. The research looked at the pandemic’s impact on new international students of developments in their country of origin. Study shows a change in the number of new student visas for the largest source countries. Nigeria has made the strongest comeback, largely reflected in the growth of Nigerian students studying in the UK.
The number of students studying abroad from India has also increased by 27 percent from pre-pandemic levels. Changes in student preferences can be attributed to this increase. The number of Indian students going to Australia has dropped by 62 per cent in the last 12 months. In contrast, the number of Indian students going to the UK has increased by 174 per cent and India has overtaken China as the largest source of international students.
Chinese students may be reduced due to administrative constraints
Analyzing international education can be a numbers game with changes in enrollment and a focus on the economic contribution of international students. But there are important policy implications. For example, there has been much debate about the effect of geopolitical tensions on international student choice. Research suggests that Chinese international students are more likely to decline due to administrative constraints and travel restrictions.
International students make big investments in education sector
International students also contribute greatly to the total investment in education sectors. In Australia, fees for international students provide about 27 per cent of the university’s total revenue. Losing international students can have a big impact on educational institutions, especially universities. In the post-pandemic environment, governments are trying to develop and promote their international education sectors. In the US, the Biden administration announced a ‘new commitment to international education’ in July 2021. The UK government aims to increase international education costs by 75% by 2030. While the pandemic has had a massive impact on international education, the environment is set for a return to a highly competitive global market.