The factors driving agent expectations and student demand for study abroad in 2021/22 are rapidly evolving, according to Navitas Insights’ ongoing global research into education agents’ perceptions during COVID. Government regulations that specifically concern foreign students have a larger effect than the COVID infection profile of each destination – a noticeable shift from 2020.
Agents were polled on their opinions of Australia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Positive views of the United Kingdom and Canada are rising, while Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates are all doing well. As students revive their desire for higher education in the nation under President Biden’s leadership, the United States is fast gaining ground. The dedication of the Australian and New Zealand governments to closed boundaries has made it increasingly unlikely that agents would attempt to send students to the ANZA area in 2021. Because of their strict border laws, Australia and New Zealand have managed to keep their COVID infection rates down. However, according to the study, agents and students are unlikely to accept them as suitable destinations in 2021.
There are a few aspects that are happening as COVID progresses: High case counts are becoming more normalised – they’re losing some of their shock appeals when wave after wave emerges in different locations; The United States and the United Kingdom have had notable results with their vaccine campaigns, which means that more relaxed boundary controls would be available earlier than in other nations. Students are becoming more mindful of destinations’ policies against foreign students when they prepare to pursue their study abroad plans.
Navitas notes that Canada “allowed existing permit holders to travel into the country after borders were closed, it provided international students with access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), and it communicated openly and positively to international students and their families throughout.” However, slow visa processing in Canada is definitely dampening demand, and if this does not change, it may become a major problem for Canadian educators looking to increase their September 2021 intakes. Meanwhile, in the United States, President Biden’s decision to lift the previous administration’s H-1B visa ban sent “a signal to the world that foreign students are accepted in the United States.”
Navitas noted, “The proportion of agents reporting improvement in the reputation of the USA as safe and stable almost quadrupled from 10% to 39% between September and March. Even more impressive is the USA’s reputation for being open and welcoming which saw an almost five-fold increase from 11% in September to 51% in March.”