Mobile students prepared to quarantine, but reluctant to pay

International learners increasingly confident about starting their course as planned, according to survey

July 28, 2021
flight attendant talking to businessman on airport, wearing face mask
Source: iStock

Nine out of 10 international students planning to enrol this autumn say that they are willing to quarantine on arrival, but barely one in three are prepared to pay the full cost, according to a survey.

The global survey of more than 4,000 applicants, offer holders and continuing students, conducted by IDP Connect, found that 88 per cent of respondents were willing to quarantine on arrival in their destination under coronavirus regulations, while 12 per cent said that they would rather defer entry until this was not a requirement.

However, only 31 per cent of respondents were prepared to pay the full costs of quarantine accommodation and Covid-19 testing. Forty-four per cent were prepared to pay a portion of the fees, while 25 per cent said that they were not prepared to contribute at all. Universities and governments were expected to make up the shortfall.

The data, based on respondents from more than 20 countries and published on 28 July, emerged amid continuing concerns about quarantine capacity in the UK for students due to arrive this autumn from countries on the Covid red list. Allowing universities to use their own accommodation for quarantine is one possible solution being discussed in the sector.

The IDP survey found that 40 per cent of respondents said that designated university student halls would be their preferred quarantine location, compared with 29 per cent who preferred a government-designated hotel.

Vivienne Stern, director of Universities UK International, said the fact that students were so willing to quarantine “shows their desire to get on to campus and commence their studies as safely as possible”.

“International education is one of the leading export sectors for the UK, contributing over £16 billion to the UK economy and having a positive impact on local economies around the country. It is therefore important that we have the right quarantine and arrival processes in place and that these are quickly communicated to students so that they can plan their arrival,” Ms Stern said.

Overall, the IDP survey found increasing confidence among internationally mobile students, with 79 per cent of respondents this month expecting to start their studies as planned, compared with 74 per cent a year ago.

Forty-five per cent of respondents were willing to start their course online if they could then transfer to face-to-face learning, with 28 per cent preferring to defer until face-to-face learning became available. Only 11 per cent were willing to study fully online.

Students looking to study in the UK and Canada were more likely to be willing to commence online, while students planning to enrol in Australia, New Zealand and the US were more likely to defer. Some 59 per cent of students interested in studying in New Zealand said that they would prefer to defer until face-to-face learning was available, along with 42 per cent heading to the US and 37 per cent looking at Australia – compared with about a quarter of students choosing Canada and the UK.

Thirty-six per cent of respondents were likely to switch destinations if it meant being able to access face-to-face teaching earlier, compared with 42 per cent who would not.

The survey also revealed widespread willingness among international students to get vaccinated against Covid-19, with 53 per cent having already been jabbed and a further 36 per cent saying that they would get it as soon as they could. Only 11 per cent said that they either required more information about vaccination or would wait until vaccines were not required to travel to their intended destination.

Seventy-seven per cent of respondents who were yet to be inoculated said that making vaccines available to international students on arrival, as the UK and Canada have done, would make a country more attractive.

In findings that further underlined the importance of an on-campus experience for international students, the research found that perceptions of support for student welfare in Canada, UK and US have generally improved among international students during the pandemic, while Australia and New Zealand – which have kept their borders largely closed – have slipped back.

Simon Emmett, IDP Connect’s chief executive, said that the results were “very positive for destination countries that have been able to communicate to students that they’re open and welcoming to international arrivals”.

“We can see from the research that students are flexible and willing to have a mixture of face-to-face and online learning, as long as they’re on campus at their desired destination,” he said.

chris.havergal@timeshighereducation.com

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Reader's comments (2)

They'll probably be even more unhappy if UK students don't have to have been double pricked and thus be vaccine passport holders to attend. If Universities don't insist on vaccine passports for ALL we can expect problems with future recruitment.
My want Learning to internationella relations and Dipolmacy online degree

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