UK, U.S. fall in attractiveness as study destinations for international students – survey


The UK and U.S. have suffered slight dips in interest from foreign students this year, according to education agents.

Based on this year’s ICEF i-graduate Agent Barometer, which gauges current international education trends using input from education agents, the percentage of agents rating the U.S. as “very attractive” to students slipped to 67 percent this year, down from last year’s 77 percent.

From 2012 to 2015, around two-thirds of respondents (63-64 percent) also considered the UK to be very attractive, but that percentage declined nearly 20 points this year to 48 percent.

Overall attractiveness of study destinations. Source: ICEF

As for Canada, it’s enjoying heightened interest from students thanks to its perceived affordability and improved access to student visas.

Up to 69 percent of responding agents rated it as a “very attractive” study destination.

The U.S. is close behind in second place, followed by Australia (59 percent), the UK, and New Zealand (39 percent) to round off the top five.

Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Spain, and Malta are also among the top 10 most attractive study destinations.

Student mobility concerns (2009-2016). Source: ICEF

The survey also covered major concerns for parents and students, and found that securing a study visa, financial worries, and the global economic situation are among the most pressing concerns.

The number of agents reporting study visa concerns among their clients increased from less than 60 percent of respondents in 2015 to 70 percent in 2016.

Safety is another key factor, as more clients named it as a concern in 2016 compared to previous years – it rose from around 15 percent in 2015 to 23 percent this year, the highest jump in four years.

Apprehension over the global political situation only saw a marginal increase, from 25 percent to 28 percent. However, the majority of that anxiety comes from students who expressed interest in going to the UK or U.S.

This was likely due to the political unease caused by the presidential campaigning that has been taking place most of this year in the U.S., while for the UK, it was the country’s surprise decision to leave the EU, as well as a crackdown on student visas.

The 2016 Agent Barometer gathered responses from 1,111 agents in 108 countries.

Image via Shutterstock

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