The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on where students choose to study upon leaving school, according to a new study by Cambridge International.
In a survey of 300 Cambridge schools across the globe, 84% reported that pandemic-related uncertainty and travel restrictions had led many of their students to change their minds about their first-choice destination or university.
However, despite the upheaval, the appetite for studying overseas remains as strong as ever, with more than a third (36%) of Cambridge students moving to a university beyond their own country in 2020.
The UK, US, Canada and Australia were the most favoured international destinations. Strong university reputation was a key factor in those opting for the UK (76%) and US (66%), while 73% of those heading for Canada cited future employment opportunities.
Given the state of flux in the last year, it is perhaps no surprise that – beyond the rise in uncertainty of destination – the Cambridge International survey revealed few clear patterns.
For example, while a quarter of schools said the trend for their students travelling to university outside their own country is increasing, an almost equal number (23%) reported that it was declining.
Reasons cited for the decline were the pandemic and, for applications to the UK, Brexit. Travel restrictions meant that only 17% of students chose the US as their preferred destination, a sharp drop from 34% in 2019.
Greater awareness of course and career opportunities, together with wider knowledge of scholarships and funding, were the main factors given by schools reporting an increase in interest for international study.
That recognition of the diverse opportunities afforded by overseas study is reflected in the broader range of countries that students are prepared to consider, with a particular increase in applications to universities in Turkey, Germany, Canada, Indonesia, UAE and the Netherlands.