According to new QS research, about a quarter of international students are considering implementing their study abroad plans following the latest COVID-19 vaccine news.
Nearly a quarter of international students (21 per cent) said they want to bring forward their plans to study abroad in the light of the COVID-19 vaccine report. That’s according to a new survey released by Quacquarelli Symonds, a higher education company (QS).
The new research surveyed 887 prospective international students from countries around the globe, including China, India, Pakistan, the UK, and the US, considering studying abroad.
For the state of business education, this is good news. One of graduate management education’s key value propositions is offering students a classroom that reflects the world in which they will graduate. A key part of that is international students.
Returning to business school, international students
News of three possible coronavirus vaccines, with the UK recently approving the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, presents the hope that international students will travel in a safer environment.
The QS study comes at a crucial point when for their education in 2021, international students weigh up whether to remain at home or travel further afield.
A return to normal student mobility levels may not be imminent, however. Nearly half of the prospective international students surveyed by QS (43 per cent) said that news of a potential vaccine made no difference to their plans.
The reasons given for this include the lack of clarity about when and to whom the vaccine would be available, or that they plan to study from 2021 onwards, assuming that normal practice will have resumed by that time.
Research carried out by QS pre-vaccine news also found that 45% of prospective international students said that when campuses are open, and face-to-face teaching has resumed, they would only feel comfortable travelling overseas to study. Forty-three per cent of respondents said that once a vaccine is developed and available, they would travel overseas to study.
Jessica Turner, QS’s managing director, explained that due to the lack of in-person teaching or travel restrictions, a significant proportion of current international students did not travel to their study destinations of choice this year.
And although some international students have been encouraged by the news of a vaccine to bring forward their plans to study abroad, it will probably take mass vaccination to push higher education back to pre-COVID normality.
“For prospective students planning to study abroad, the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to significantly address both of these barriers, encouraging news for the future of global higher education,” Jessica added.
How COVID-19 has influenced the classroom at business school
The 2020 Application Trends Survey of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) found that during the pandemic, demand for business school places increased, with 67 per cent of programs reporting an increase in application volume.
The study found that US application numbers across the board increased by 29.9 per cent for domestic applicants and 14.7 per cent for international applications. European schools saw a remarkable increase of 50.1 per cent in domestic applications.
Although international applications in both Europe and the US were also up year on year, international students were also more likely to postpone their studies until next year. According to GMAC’s report, there was a 15 per cent deferral rate among internationals.
However, the results of the QS survey might suggest that if vaccination allows for a return to safe student mobility, international applications may increase further during the upcoming application cycle. Along with deferred international applicants, international students could strongly represent the 2021-22 classroom.
There won’t be an immediate return to normality. News of the COVID-19 vaccine, however, has had a positive impact on the way international students think about the coming year.
It looks like good news for higher education, and international and domestic students alike, whether further vaccine developments in 2021 allow internationals to travel to campus or to consider applying for a business school outside of their home country altogether.