The Covid-19 pandemic has caused huge disruption to education around the world and has directly impacted students’ decisions about where to study once they complete their schooling. Research conducted under Cambridge International’s Annual Destinations survey found students are becoming more aware of the wide range of study options available to them internationally.
The survey asked schools across the globe where their Cambridge International AS & A Level students from the previous year have chosen to go to university, and what subjects they have elected to study. As many as 84 per cent of schools surveyed reported that most of their students had changed their minds about their first-choice destination or university – largely as a result of general uncertainty, difficulties with travel or financial hardship caused by the pandemic.
However, despite the impacts of the pandemic, the desire of Cambridge students to continue their higher education overseas has not changed. Over a third of Cambridge students are still estimated to have progressed to universities outside of their own country in 2020.
Globally, many teachers surveyed reported a diversification in the countries that students are prepared to consider, with a particular increase in applications to universities in Turkey, Germany, Canada, Indonesia, UAE and the Netherlands.
In addition, looking at the top four international destinations globally (UK, US, Canada and Australia), 76 per cent reported they chose the UK because of their strong university reputation, whilst 73 per cent reported they selected Canada because it was the most attractive for future job opportunities. A total of 66 per cent cited university reputation as the reason for choosing a US university, and 34 per cent chose Australia because they were interested in exploring the region.
In India, the majority of students are still choosing to pursue higher education courses at Indian universities, followed by international destinations like the US and UK. Indian students have also shown increased interest in studying at Canadian and Australian universities, similar to the global student trend identified in the survey findings.
Some respondents reported there is also greater awareness of scholarships and funding, which makes going to university overseas more financially viable.
Highlighting the impact of Covid-19, 84 per cent of schools said the Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on students’ higher education decisions in 2020. Three out of five (62 per cent) schools said some of their students delayed or deferred university due to general uncertainty and wanting to avoid travel away from home. The impact of Covid-19 on location choice was so important that 43 per cent of schools had at least some students change their plans to study at another university