US, New Zealand, Germany more attractive for study abroad

By Doan Hung   April 24, 2024 | 03:28 pm PT
US, New Zealand, Germany more attractive for study abroad
Students sit on the steps of Wilson Library on the campus of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 2018. Photo by Reuters
International students are more interested in the U.S., New Zealand and Germany while the U.K., Australia, and Canada are no longer front and center.

A survey conducted late last month by AECC Global, an international overseas education consultancy, which polled over 8,300 prospective international students from 124 countries, found that 15.5% of respondents had changed their preferred study destination in the past 12 months.

Over the period, interest in New Zealand, Germany, and the U.S. increased by 86%, 36%, and 13% respectively, while interest in the U.K., Australia and Canada decreased by 9-32% after they tightened student visa and employment regulations.

The three common reasons for the changes in preferences were the cost of education (24%), employment opportunities (19%), and policies regarding international students (14%).

AECC's study also revealed that the quality of education and employment opportunities are the main motivations for studying abroad, with 38.2% and 25.3% of respondents selecting these two motivators as their top two priorities, respectively.

When asked about their plans after graduation, more than half of the respondents (56%) said they wanted to work in the host country, and 28% hoped to settle there.

Some 79% of students said that the right to work after graduation was extremely important when selecting a study abroad program.

Furthermore, about 20% of prospective international students have changed their intended field of study in the past 12 months.

They are shifting to Business and Management, Computer Science and Information Technology, Health and Medicine, moving away from Engineering, Humanities, Design, and Finance Accounting.

More than 52% said the reason is that the fields they are shifting to can lead to high-paying jobs. Other reasons include better settlement opportunities, family, education costs, and friends.

A study conducted by IDP Education in January among 2,500 participants in 67 countries showed nearly half (49%) of the prospective students surveyed said they would reconsider or were unsure about their plans to study in the U.K.

The number of students now hesitating to go to Australia and Canada were 47% and 43%, respectively.

Both countries have tightened visa and employment regulations for international students amid increasing housing crises.

Canada announced it would reduce the number of study permits issued this year by 35%, while also discontinuing the granting of work permits to students from public-private partnership institutions.

Australia has increased financial and English language requirements and is using a new test to determine international students' study motivation. The country also reduced its post-graduation stay duration allowance for students in certain fields. The U.K. started reviewing its international student work visa programs last month.

In contrast, Germany has relaxed several regulations for international students and workers.

The country has extended working hours, and lowered its language standards for vocational study students. This country has seen a more than 50% increase in international students compared to ten years ago, mainly due to tuition waivers, low living costs, and broad employment opportunities.

New Zealand and the U.S. have made virtually no policy changes for international students.

However, New Zealand is attractive due to its low tuition fees, at NZD$20,000-25,000 (US$11,820-14,800) per year, while the U.S. offers world-leading quality in higher education.

Both allow international students to stay up to 36 months after graduation, depending on their field of study.

The number of international students arriving in New Zealand exceeded 59,000 last year, a more than 40% increase from the year before.

Although the U.S. rejected a record number of student visas in 2023, it still attracted a million international students.

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