New policies shifting international students away from Australia, Canada, UK: reports

By Minh Nga   March 2, 2024 | 05:31 pm PT
The landscape of international education is undergoing significant transformations as Australia, Canada, and the U.K., three of the most sought-after study-abroad destinations, implement new international education policies.

A study titled "The Voice of the International Student" conducted in January by IDP Education across 67 countries with 2,500 student respondents reveals a shift in student preferences, with an increased interest in the U.S. as a study destination, ICEF Monitor reported.

The site that focuses on international education and student travel industry also cited a research this month by Studyportals, a Dutch company involved in providing an online education opportunity platform, as indicating a significant decline in student interest in Canada for 2023, with a corresponding rise in attraction towards the U.S. and Italy.

The Netherlands experienced a resurgence in interest heading into 2024, which may wane due to plans by Dutch universities to cut back on international student admissions and English-taught programs.

The IDP survey shows that nearly half of prospective students are reevaluating or uncertain about their plans to study in the U.K. (49%), Australia (47%), and Canada (43%), with the U.S. emerging as a more favorable alternative for those deterred by the policies in these countries.

"This latest pulse survey highlights that international students are highly attuned to the ongoing discussions regarding policy changes and that this is impacting the standing of the top global study destinations at a time when competition between destination countries is at an all-time high," said Simon Emmett, CEO of IDP Connect.

He said the survey underscores that students seek stability in their study abroad decisions, and the evolving policies in the U.K., Canada, and Australia are causing them to consider alternative locations.

The tightening of international education policies in these countries aligns with broader attempts to more strictly control immigration. In Canada and Australia, efforts are also directed at addressing unethical practices in the education sector and enhancing quality assurance, according to IDP.

International passengers arrive at Londons Heathrow Airport in the U.K. in 2021. Photo by Reuters

International passengers arrive at London's Heathrow Airport in the U.K. in 2021. Photo by Reuters

In the past few months, Canada, Australia, and the U.K. have deployed several new rules for international students as part of their bigger efforts to more closely watch and control who comes into their countries.

While Canada and Australia are trying to stop dishonest schools and agents from operating, and are working to make sure the education offered to international students is of good quality, the U.K. government said that starting in January 2024, most international students can't bring family members with them.

Studyportals' research, based on its site's pageview data, noted a declining interest in Canada, particularly in British Columbia.

This trend is partly attributed to diplomatic tensions between Canada and India, affecting visa processing times and altering perceptions of Canada's prestige as a study destination. In contrast, the U.S. has improved its visa processing capabilities in India.

Data from Studyportals shows that fewer students from important countries, like India, want to study in Canada.

The interest dropped by 39.7% from February 2023 to January 2024.

It said that problems between Canada and India, which made visa applications slower, are partly to blame. But, Canada is also becoming less popular in India for other reasons.

At the annual Canadian Bureau for International Education conference in Vancouver in late 2023, experts said people in India don't think studying in Canada is as good as in the U.K. or U.S. anymore.

At the same time, the U.S. is making it easier for students from India to get visas by handling them faster and opening more offices there, heard the meeting.

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