QS has published a report on the response of international students to the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems that universities and students will have to make adjustments to their plans over the coming months. The report was based on responses from 312 current international students mainly studying in the UK, the USA, Canada, India. Russia, and Mainland China and from 2,689 prospective international students.
One significant trend identified by the report is that online learning has made big strides since the advent of the virus. Just over half of current international students reported that they were experiencing all online learning and another 22% a combination of online and face to face learning.
Students reported that their universities had taken several measures to deal with the crisis including making classes available online, providing masks and sanitisers, and offering mental health support services. On the whole current international students were positive about the effectiveness of the response of their universities. Many students, however, were slightly, moderately or very worried about the situation although only a minority were extremely worried.
Among the prospective international students there was a broad range of nationalities with the largest group (22%) coming from India. They were mainly interested in studying in countries such as the US (42%), UK (UK%), Canada (41%) Germany (27%) and Australia (24%).
Many of them have chosen to delay or defer their plans to study abroad. Reasons cited included government restrictions and vias processing issues.
It is likely that the perceived reactions of host countries to the pandemic will affect the destinations of internationally mobile students. When prospective students were asked which countries had handled the COVID-19 crisis well the list was headed by New Zealand followed by Germany and Canada. The USA and the UK were right at the bottom of the list. Over half said that they had reconsidered where to study because of the host country’s response.