International students are willing to quarantine and get vaccinated for a Canadian in-country study experience

TORONTO, April 28, 2021 /CNW/ – Aspiring international students remain committed to their global study goals and are willing to vaccinate and quarantine in return for on-campus study and the experience of living abroad, despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has presented.

The findings form part of the fourth installment of IDP Connect’s International Student Crossroads research, which examined the attitudes and behaviours of international student applicants and offer holders as well as current students.

The latest research surveyed more than 6,000 respondents from more than 57 countries, all of whom hold aspirations or current applications for studying at higher education institutions in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Although the majority (75 percent) of students expect to commence their studies as planned, student confidence has dropped by five percent since the October 2020 study, suggesting some students are growing tired of the uncertainty and prolonged disruption.

While there has been much debate on whether an online offering can truly replace the on-campus experience, the survey findings reinforced that students want traditional face-to-face learning, with only 10 percent of students stating they will commence a course entirely online.

Demonstrating students’ resilience and willingness to compromise, 43 percent of respondents said they would start online only if the course later transitioned to face-to-face. While 31 percent of students said they would defer until face-to-face teaching became available, 11 percent remain undecided as to whether they would start online or wait for face-to-face and four percent will withdraw their application if the situation does not improve.

Respondents stated the lack of the international experience was the key factor stopping them from commencing online-only study, and 39 percent of students reported they were likely to switch destinations if it meant they could access face-to-face learning earlier. Furthermore, 30 percent of respondents said they would switch destinations to undertake face-to-face teaching even if this meant forgoing a scholarship offer.

The study also found the majority of international students (55 percent) have revealed they will get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, suggesting destinations which insist on vaccinations were not deterring students. A further nine percent have already been vaccinated and 30 percent remain hesitant, stating they need more information about the vaccines before taking their next steps – highlighting a communications priority for governments and institutions. The remaining 6 percent stated that they are willing to wait until Vaccine Passports are no longer needed.

Student perceptions of the destination countries were also surveyed and overall, Canada received the highest rating – particularly for its policies for international students and post-study work visas, while the US continued to lag in last place. New Zealand was rated as having responded best to the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by Australia. The UK was perceived to be the middle of the pack in almost all categories.  

Andrew Barkla, CEO of IDP Education, said although the results only showed a marginal decline in students’ confidence in being able to commence their studies as planned since October 2020, countries that were lagging in catering for international students needed to move swiftly.

Canada continues to set the tone in its progressive policies and communication with students and this approach can be and should be adopted by all major study destinations,” Barkla said.

Christine Wach, Director of Client Partnerships at IDP Connect goes on to say “this is another really positive set of results for Canada, highlighting that Canada has a progressive set of policies for international students that have been well communicated globally.”  

“As countries recover from the impacts of COVID-19, study destinations must be able to articulate their unique education offering in order to remain competitive on the global stage,” Barkla said.

For more information on the research, view the infographic report of the results here. 


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