Visa Crunch

Agents advise prospective students to ‘hedge their bets’

According to research, agents advise prospective international students to prepare alternative back-up study options, while a “overwhelming majority” advise students to choose online studying as a default recommendation until travel is possible. 

The devastating second wave of Covid-19 that has hit South Asia since the research was performed may now be a barrier, according to the report.

A “significant proportion” of agents – ranging from 16 to 31 percent, depending on the destination – are advising students to consider a different country as a destination. 

The information comes from the Navitas Agent Perception Report, which polled 900 agents in 73 countries in March 2021. 

According to the report, “our experience working with students and their parents over the last 12 months tells us that they are committed to continuing their studies and have a strong preference for face-to-face delivery.”

Many agents, however, face difficulty persuading parents and students that starting online studies is a better option than “waiting for borders to open, which only puts them in a longer line for admission, visas, and flights once travel is possible.” 

When asked what they would recommend, the majority of agents said they would start their studies online. Students choosing Canada and the United Kingdom should study online until travel is possible, according to more than 70% of agents, echoing findings from previous Navitas research.

The first half of the report, released in April, suggested that the UK and Canada are still on the mend, while the US is undergoing a “remarkable turnaround.” According to the latest survey, the percentage of agents who recommend starting online studies has dropped to around 65 percent in Australia and just over 50 percent in New Zealand. 

Few agents (between 0-4.5 percent of the 900 respondents) advise students to cancel their travel plans and study entirely online. 

In the two months leading up to March, more than 20% of respondents strongly agreed that the UK, Canada, and Singapore had seen more interest as an education destination than other countries, continuing trends from the previous release of the survey. 

While the UK “continues to be the most appealing in the eyes of agents in the Greater China region, scoring a chart-topping 78 percent,” the US only has around 35% of agents strongly agreeing or agreeing that interest has increased in the previous two months. 

Approximately half of the agents said the same thing about Australia. The silver lining for Australia is that its low safety and stability score does not appear to have dampened interest too much, with the proportion of agents reporting interest in studying in Australia remaining at 53 percent. “How long this is likely to continue is unknown,” the report stated.

“Because Indian students are often motivated by the migration pathway that education provides, there is a reluctance to begin online studies when no date for student entry into Australia is in sight,” the report stated. 

According to the latest survey, agents in South Asia expect strong growth in the next 12-24 months, with Canada and the United Kingdom being the “likely beneficiaries” in 2021, and the United States seeing a strong rebound in 2022. 

In addition, given the ramifications of Brexit, the report found that Canada could provide an alternative to the UK for European students looking to study abroad at an English-speaking university.

Ravi Patel

Ravi Patel

To say it in the most sardonic way possible, I am least skilled as an engineer and instill a myopic view of all the experiences I have anticipated so far. However, I stir the pot, colors from which come surging forth as I choose to describe myself as an artist. Here's hoping to diversify my awareness from that cleft beyond writing.

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