More than 50% of prospective international students are considering changing their plans by, for instance, postponing their studies or studying in a different country, according to a new survey conducted by international student recruitment platform educations.com.
Some 78% of prospective students surveyed this October plan to begin studying in the next two years, indicating a strong desire to study in future, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Only a very small percentage of prospective students (3.9%) plan to cancel their future study plans altogether in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Nevertheless, most students are considering alternative options such as postponing their studies (39%) and studying in a different country (14%). The proportion planning to postpone is only slightly lower than the 42% of prospective students surveyed in March-April.
The proportion of students who answer: “I don’t know yet”, has increased to 15% in October from 10% in March-April, highlighting increasing uncertainty about study plans.
More than 2,700 responses from prospective and current international students were collected for the survey between 1 and 18 October 2020 and educations.com has compared the findings with those of a previous survey conducted approximately six months ago between 16 March and 22 April 2020.
The geographical breakdown of the prospective students surveyed in October was Asia (31.7%), Africa (31.2%), Europe (19.7%), North America (8.4%), South America (6.3%) and Australasia (2.7%).
Prospective students who are postponing their studies intend to do things that would be beneficial for their financial situation and-or future career or studies plans: work (59%), study some courses (49%), take an internship (23%), or volunteer (21%).
However, 53% still expect to be travelling abroad to study on campus in the future.
Educations.com said: “This shows how, despite the current situation, many prospective students are determined to experience the full study abroad experience.
“Interestingly, the percentage of prospective students who are willing to start their studies online but move to on-campus study at a later date has increased to 23% in October from 16% in March-April.
“This may reflect students’ acceptance of the fluidity of the situation in which universities may have to move their studies online.”
More than half of prospective students are not interested in studying online. However, there is a slight increase in the proportion of prospective students who are very or extremely interested in studying online – 22.5% in October vs 20.3% in March-April, the survey found.
About a third (33.1%) of prospective students are willing to study online until COVID-19 restrictions are eased – indicating their acceptance that COVID-19 restrictions are likely to be part of their study-abroad experience.
However, the main concerns about online studies remain unchanged in October compared to March. These include “lack of social interaction with classmates” and “staying focused and self-motivated”.