According to the latest study, the UK has grown “far more attractive” and “welcoming” as a preferred study destination for overseas students in the last year.
Students’ attraction to the UK as a study destination has surged from a fifth of them believing with the statement to just over a third in the last year, according to the latest QS Quacquarelli Symonds report, which collated responses from a continuous poll running since the start of the pandemic. The same could be stated about how friendly it was to overseas students as a place to study.
Since February 2020, 1,15,000 prospective overseas students have been questioned, with 34,880 of them interested in studying in the United Kingdom.
Covid-19 vaccines have also become a far more appealing option for students who wish to study abroad — as 86 per cent of the students now want a vaccine shot to be allowed to travel, and about 24 per cent of the students from the start of 2021.
Assistance for vaccine passports for foreign travel has climbed by 13%, with approximately two-thirds of students interested in studying abroad – up from just over half at the start of the year.
“Support for vaccination and vaccine passports has increased steadily over the past year, suggesting that students are more willing to accept Covid-19 requirements from countries so they can progress with their plans to study abroad,” said Paul Raybould, QS Director of Marketing.
The study also mentioned the gap in vaccination deployment pace, which Raybould suggested could explain the UK’s optimism. “The trend data from our research over 2021 shows that the UK’s distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine has significantly enhanced the country’s reputation amongst international students,” Raybould explained.
“As we’ve progressed through the year, the UK is being seen as an increasingly attractive destination of study above many of its key competitors,” he added.
The report also addressed the issue of deferring the studies, asking students if they would postpone their studies abroad in the event of a pandemic. From September to October 2021, half of the students polled said they intended to defer or postpone their education until at least the following year.
“Given that the legality of travel is now one of the main barriers for students, the higher education sector has strong evidence to support the reopening of borders to international students,” the report stated.
When questioned in September/October if they would still think about starting their studies online and then proceeding to in-person teaching, the number of students who said they would consider such a course climbed by 7% over the course of the year.
“What cannot be ignored is that a consistently large proportion of prospective international students saw the closure of campuses and cancellation of in-person teaching as a barrier to them pursuing international study as planned,” the report added.
According to media reports, despite a constant closure of borders since March 2020, New Zealand received a favourable assessment in the report, with roughly a third of students labelling it as having managed the pandemic the best of any country.
Other countries that international students thought performed well were the United States (10%), Germany (8%), China (8%) and the UK (5%).
“The collaborative way in which the UK sector has worked has been particularly instrumental in tackling international student recruitment challenges during Covid-19,” said Vivienne Stern, Director of UUKi, who shared his views on the report.
“It is really promising to see large increases in the percentage of students who view the UK as a more attractive and welcoming place to study.”