US abortion ruling leads to surge in students mulling transfers

After Supreme Court decision, websites specialising in finding accommodation abroad report spike in enquiries

August 3, 2022
Young woman seated in airport departure lounge

Fears that the Supreme Court decision on abortion rights will lead to a divide in US higher education are growing, with several new sets of data suggesting large numbers of students are ready to switch institutions to avoid states that plan to make the procedure illegal. 

About 20 per cent of students currently based in areas where anti-abortion legislation is likely to be passed say they “definitely” plan to transfer, while a quarter are considering it, according to a survey of 1,000 students by the online magazine

Two other sites – and, which specialise in connecting students to universities and housing options in Europe – have both reported unusually large surges in student interest. The latter said a year-on-year increase in enquiries from the US of about 85 per cent climbed to nearly 200 per cent in the days after the ruling ended the federally protected right to an abortion.

Gerrit Bruno Blöss, the chief executive officer of, said beyond the immediate impact of the decision, many fear it is a signal that further rights will be under threat in future, hence the desire to leave the country.

Students may also be influenced by the rise in the value of the US dollar against the euro and pound, Mr Blöss said. “Studying in Europe was already substantially cheaper, on average, than in the US, and is now even more affordable,” he said, particularly because many US colleges are announcing increases in tuition rates because of inflation. 

Katherine Walker, a sophomore at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who identifies as transgender and queer, is considering leaving over concerns about the abortion ruling and other governmental policies in areas such as medical privacy rights and the failure to tackle racial and gender biases.

“Right now, because of reasons relating to finances and disability, I feel like moving out of the country is sort of a dream,” they told Times Higher Education. “However, the seriousness of the situation is pushing me to move forward with preparing so I can leave the country and emigrate elsewhere if things get worse or circumstances change.”

Mr Blöss acknowledged that many of the students considering their options were engaged in “wishful thinking” but predicted that universities in Western and Northern Europe could see increases in applications of up to 20 per cent from the US next year, depending on how things develop after the midterm elections in November.

The next report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, due in September, will show how many college students followed through with desires to transfer. In May, the body found overall declines in student transfers during the spring semester, but an increase of 5 per cent in those switching between four-year institutions.


Print headline: Abortion ruling sparks surge in transfer plans

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Reader's comments (1)

They might do better to remain in these states and hit the reactionary politicians hard in the ballot box!