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2017 International Student Buyer Behaviour Research

Published on October 11, 2017


Canada’s safe environment and welcoming policies are increasing its attractiveness as a study destination, according to a new study conducted by IDP Education.

Released this week at the Australian International Education Conference, IDP Education’s latest Student Buyer Behaviour research examined more than 4,200 students’ perceptions of the five main English speaking countries.

IDP Education’s study, which explores a range of drivers of student mobility including safety, affordability, graduate employment opportunities, student visa policies and quality of education, found that students’ perceptions of Canada as a study destination improved, with students seeing Canada as a safe and affordable destination with good post-study work opportunities.

While the USA maintained its lead in terms of quality of education, a key driver of destination choice, it saw declines in regard to safety, affordability, visa requirements, and graduate employment opportunities.

In the UK, Brexit caused little impact in student perceptions of the country as a study destination, although the study found the UK was seen as less safe compared to recent years.

Perceptions of Australia and New Zealand were mostly unchanged, however Canada’s positive momentum meant both Australia and New Zealand lost some of their relative brand strength.

The study also found that while students’ perceptions of Australia around affordability remains a concern, their reasons for choosing Australia and other English speaking destinations are as aspirational as they are practical.

Although students are conscious of the benefits of international qualifications to their career prospects, the opportunity to learn about themselves and the world was just as important to them.

Differences in students’ motivations for studying abroad were widespread, however some trends from students across specific countries were noted:

  • Students from India and Indonesia tended to prioritise high-quality course content and career prospects, reflecting the fact that the majority are post-graduate students.
  • Students from Malaysia and Vietnam were especially interested in the self-discovery element of studying abroad, but also influenced by the affordability of their study destination.
  • The motivations of Chinese students reflected the diversity in this market. Course quality and structure were highly important to Chinese students, as was the opportunity to study abroad and discover the person they want to be.

Findings also highlighted international students have very different motivations for studying abroad.Students’ decisions to study abroad depended on pragmatic factors like affordability and visa accessibility, but also aspirational elements such as life experience and future career aspirations.

Head of Research for IDP Education, Lyndell Jacka, said that recent political and socio-economic developments across the globe impacted students’ perceptions remarkably.

“This year’s study saw Canada take the lead in four out of five key drivers, highlighting the direct impact these changes can have on the attractiveness of a study destination,” Ms Jacka said.

Since 2012, the annual IDP Education Buyer Behaviour study has explored drivers of student mobility and changes in perceptions and expectations of popular study destinations including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and USA.

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