International students are moving towards Canada, the UK, and the US to pursue their education in high numbers despite the pandemic. However, Australia and New Zealand are facing a dramatic drop in new international students. These are the findings from new research by the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University. This article will present how the pandemic affected international education all over the world.
Findings of the latest research by Mitchell Institute at Victoria University.
The research shows a complex situation where the pandemic affected enrolment of international students differently in different parts of the world. Mitchell Institute at Victoria University examined 5 main study abroad destinations for international students: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Findings are:
The first waves of the pandemic caused a large drop in enrollment of international students. But countries that have removed the restriction for international students have rebounded strongly.
Canada, UK, and USA record-high number of international students despite Covid.
Australia and New Zealand are still experiencing the continuous fall in enrollment of new international students.
The numbers of new students coming from China are still less than they were pre-pandemic. But for some source countries, such as India and Nigeria, numbers are reaching new heights.
Change in new international student visas approvals by country
Student visa data are the main indicator, as international students normally need a visa to enter the host country. The impact on enrollment of international students in the pandemic and post-pandemic are:
All countries had a significant fall in international students in 2020 but those without closed borders had a quicker recovery. Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom experienced falls greater than 80%.
By the September 2021 quarter, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States had bounced back to reach the record levels for the available data on student visas. The United Kingdom has recovered the strongest. Its number of new international students is 38%, a record level than pre-COVID.
How has the pandemic affected international students by major source countries?
Happenings in students’ home countries will also impact decisions during a pandemic. The research found the impact of the pandemic on new international students by their source country.
Nigeria has bounced back the strongest, pushed largely by an increase in Nigerian students studying in the UK.
The number of Indian international students from India has also increased around 27% when compared to the pre-pandemic situation. Behind this increase lie shifts in student choice.
New international students coming from India to Australia dropped by 62% in the 12 months to September 2021 when compared to the year of 2019.
New Indian international students going to the UK are more than doubled, jumping by 174%.
India has left behind China in terms of being the largest source country of international students.
What are the policy implications?
Survey on international education can be a numbers game with discussion focusing on shifts in enrolments and the economic contribution of international students. But there are important policy implications.
There have been many discussions on the influence of geopolitical tensions on the choices of international students. This research shows that the reduction in Chinese international students is more because of administrative hurdles and travel restrictions.
International students contribute substantially to total investment in the education sector. In Australia, international students’ fees contribute about 27% of total university revenue. Losing international students can have a big consequence on universities.
In a post-pandemic environment, governments are trying harder to grow and foster their international education sectors. In the United States, the government announced a “renewed commitment to international education” in July 2021. The government of the United Kingdom is targeting a goal for a 75% increase in the value of international education by 2030.
The report brings attention to the renewed emphasis countries are placing on attracting international students. While the COVID pandemic had an impact greatly on international education, the scene is set for a bounce back to a highly competitive global educational market.