Agents expecting to send more international students to UK

Uptick in flows to Australia, Canada and US also predicted

August 9, 2022
Gatwick airport terminal London England
Source: iStock

Education agents have predicted a significant increase in international student flows over the next year to the UK, ahead of the US, Australia and Canada.

INTO University Partnerships’ survey was completed by 1,473 educational agents from more than 80 countries, including China, India and Brazil.

Globally, more than four out of five agents (82 per cent) are anticipated to send more students to the UK this year than last – with half predicting a significant increase.

In contrast, 65 per cent of respondents expect to send more students to the US, 63 per cent to Australia and 59 per cent to Canada.

One of the biggest surveys of its kind, taken in May this year, it also shows that educational quality and employment prospects are key factors for recruitment agents worldwide to consider.

Despite political scandals such as “Partygate”, more than 70 per cent of surveyed agents feel “positive” about the UK’s handling of Covid. A total of 91 per cent feel this way about its “welcoming and safe” impression for international students, with a 95 per cent positivity rating for the openness of its borders.

For the US, just 56 per cent felt positive about its Covid response. However, 67 per cent felt positive about the handling of the pandemic in Australia, which recently reopened its borders after two years.

However, Australia scores more highly than the UK and US for its post-study work opportunities – with 88 per cent of agents feeling “positive”, compared with 84 per cent for the UK, and 69 per cent for the US.

Last year, the travel and higher education sectors were still grappling with Covid-related restrictions. In 2021, the INTO survey, a UK/US partnership, showed that just 65 per cent of agents planned to send more students to the UK; 44 per cent to Canada; 34 per cent to the US and only 27 per cent to Australia.

The order of the most popular countries has fluctuated – likely explained by their Covid rules relaxing, a post-pandemic renewed desire for young people to study abroad, and the increased importance of employability.

INTO University Partnerships chief executive Olivia Streatfeild said: “The survey findings indicate the green shoots of recovery for the whole international education sector after more than two years of disruption.

“Our research clearly shows students are increasingly confident that now is the time to pursue an international degree, and more than ever they are looking for quality education to transform their lives.”

The results, particularly that the UK enjoys a sought-after appeal and Australia is regaining its status, come after a large-scale Chinese report showed its country’s students to favour the UK above other locations. Another educational agents survey suggested that the world’s students have forgiven Australia for its pandemic-born detachment from them.

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