Visa Crunch

Students’ perspectives on returning to study abroad are highlighted in a survey.

A new survey report gathered responses from over 15,000 prospective and existing international students to find out how they feel about returning to study abroad this year. Responses to “Studying abroad again: How do current and prospective international students feel about the return of studying overseas?” were gathered from markets all across the world between January and June 2021.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the majority of students (61%) chose in-person instruction, while just 17% favoured online learning (another 23 per cent did not express a preference). Moreover half (55%) of students who had already started or restarted their studies this year indicated that their institutions had been “extremely effective” or “very effective” in delivering online programmes.

This is especially fortunate because students stated that switching to online distribution is the most common method used by schools to combat the spread of COVID-19. Many institutions’ shift to online learning has been accompanied by a variety of public health initiatives and student assistance. The poll also looked at whether students were provided with any incentives to return to school this year by their institutions. The simple answer is “no,” with two-thirds of respondents stating that they were not provided with any discounts or financial incentives.

Students most commonly mentioned scholarships (49 per cent) or tuition discounts (36 per cent) as the most appealing alternatives when asked what measures would make a difference to them in terms of giving an additional incentive to study abroad. QS, commenting on these results stated that “While some financial incentives are seen as measures to encourage the return to an international study, many students see it as a necessary reimbursement given the fact that their higher education experience is, or will be, far from the typical university experience had by so many before them.”

Finally, the poll looked at how students felt about COVID vaccinations. Approximately one-fifth (21%) of respondents indicated that vaccinations had motivated them to begin their studies earlier than they may have otherwise. However, a startling 42% indicated vaccine availability had not influenced their research intentions. The global trend of vast disparities in vaccination availability from country to country is a significant cautionary note in terms of the timing and scope of international mobility recovery. It also appears to be shaping overseas students’ conflicting feelings and expectations regarding vaccinations this year. This is in stark contrast to the findings of another survey, conducted a while back, where QS found that vaccination hopes bolstered students resolve to study abroad. You can read more about this here:

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