Canada, UK rated top by international students

Canada and the UK have overtaken the US as preferred destinations for study among international students, according to a new report.

An analysis of recent surveys by global student network also found that overseas students planning to study in Australia had switched to British or Canadian universities because of the pandemic-induced border lockdown imposed by the government in Canberra.The surveys from Stockholm-based were supported by reports by academics and international education agents in Australia who said that students from India, Nepal and China were now heading for universities in Canada and the UK because they had “given up” on waiting for Australia’s borders to reopen.“The information we are getting from our agent network is that students are deciding to take UK offers because the UK borders are open,” Western Sydney University vice-chancellor Barney Glover told the Sydney Morning Herald.“Although the students and families are concerned about Covid, they are prioritising being able to enter the country and to begin studies in the UK over the risks of Covid.”And Simon Marginson, professor of higher education at the University of Oxford and formerly of the University of Melbourne, said “there is now a major forking of the way” between the British and Australian higher education systems, because Australia had closed its borders during the pandemic, while the UK had not.Spring-Fair-2021-in-text-banner“My political nose tells me that (Australia’s) government is not greatly worried about the declining position of university science and still less about the overall position of universities in Australia. It knows that the decline of international education means that the economy will take a hit, but with this government, politics comes before economics,” he said.“After 20 golden years carried along partly by Chinese students, a bad period is coming up for Australian universities; in fact, it has already arrived.” Even so, Australia still ranked fifth, behind fourth-placed Germany, in the surveys while the US was, until recently, ranked as the number one pick for international students. But, according to, there has been a steady decline in interest in American universities recorded since 2018.The result has been that, by October last year, the US had dropped to third place behind Canada and the UK, with both countries experiencing applications for student visas increasing by three per cent year-on-year, compared to a ten per cent decrease in the US.
Much of the reason for America's dwindling appeal was attributed to President Donald Trump's antagonism towards immigration, while both Canada and the UK have not only streamlined the visa application process but are offering post-graduate opportunities for employment.Now President Joe Biden is moving to change the situation, overruling some of the restrictions imposed by his predecessor and presenting new, more liberal immigration proposals to Congress.Meanwhile, in the UK the government announced an additional £50 million in hardship funding for students on Tuesday, after an initial £20 million was earmarked in December to help relieve the burden the pandemic has imposed on both international and local students enroled in UK universities.“This continues to be an incredibly difficult and challenging time for our students, and I am hugely grateful to all the university staff working hard to prioritise their health, wellbeing and learning during this pandemic,” said Universities Minister Michelle Donelan.“The additional £50 million will mean we have distributed £70 million for hardship in this financial year alone — on top of the £256 million pounds of government-funded student premium which universities can use for student support this academic year."

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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