2021 Year In Review: International Students in Top Destinations

Australia Canada United Kingdom United States North America International Studies by Erudera News Dec 31, 2021

International students abroad

It’s been another year of challenges for international students in several countries around the world as the latter continued to face restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In some countries, they were not allowed to enter and continue in-person studies this year either, Erudera.com reports.

As 2021 comes to an end, we will see how this year was for international students studying at universities located in some of the most popular destinations for overseas students.

1. Australia

In Australia, international students continued to struggle with their studies in the country due to the pandemic. Australia’s international students were not allowed to enter the country until mid-December.

Although it was planned to allow students to begin in-person classes by December 1, the latter were told to wait for another two weeks. The Australian government decided to impose a travel ban on international students again due to the threat of the Omicron variant.

Students expressed frustration over this decision, saying that they had lost the money they spent for flight tickets. 

“Other countries have stopped flights from those nine countries only, but our beloved Australia has banned literally each, and every country for god knows what reason. We’re heartbroken. Do you understand what this means for us?” a Twitter user named Rini Dharva wrote.  

However, from December 15, after almost two years, Australia reopened its borders to thousands of international students, a decision which, according to Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson, would give heart to more than 133,000 international students, many of whom will return to campus life again and others to access campuses for the first time.

“Our international students make a rich contribution, both to the student experience and the wider Australian community. We have missed their presence dearly and couldn’t be more delighted to welcome them back from today,” Jackson added.

Earlier in 2021, New Generation Network Scholar in Education at the University of Melbourne, Andrew Deuchar told Erudera that Australia lacked the political will to reopen to international students, at least to those who are who enrolled in a course at a recognized provider, who are fully vaccinated, and who complete two weeks of hotel quarantine.

According to Australia’s Department of Education data, there were 69,427 fewer enrolments at country’s universities (YTD July 2019 compared to YTD 2021).

2. Canada

New research conducted in late August and early September this year by IDP Connect, an education company focusing on student marketing and recruitment, indicated that Canada had overtaken the United States, the UK and Australia in terms of attracting international students.

The research, which involved a total of 3,650 students from a total of 55 countries worldwide, showed that 39 percent of students see Canada as their first choice for higher education, followed by 17 percent who mentioned the United States and the United Kingdom both, and 16 percent who said that Australia was their first choice.

72 percent of students participating in this research have chosen to study in Canada during 2021 because of the ability to work part-time.

In 2021, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) issued about 21,000 study permits in total, 44 percent more than in 2020.

3. The United States

The number of international students in the United States this year has decreased by 15 percent, from 1,075,496 in 2019/20 academic year to 914,095 in 202/21.

However, another research by the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University has shown that more students from different countries worldwide have decided to move to the US, the UK, and Canada amid the pandemic.

According to a survey by the Institute of International Education (IIE), higher education institutions in the United States have seen a four percent increase in the total number of international students this fall.

The same revealed that 70 percent of colleges in the US have seen an increase in the number of international students in fall 2021, 20 percent have reported a decrease, while 10 percent of higher education institutions reported the same level as previously.

In 2021, China and India represented the majority of international students in the US, specifically 53 percent of the international student body.

South Korea, Canada, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Brazil were some of the top sources of international students in the US during 2021.

4. The United Kingdom

The United Kingdom, meanwhile, has been a more open country for international students during 2021 despite the pandemic, strongly recovering compared to Australia and New Zealand as two major study destinations.

The number of new international students in the UK in 2021 was around 38 percent higher compared to levels prior to the pandemic.

“In the case of the UK, new international students are 37% higher than pre-COVID. By contrast, new student visa applications for Australia have plummeted by 70% in the 12 months to September, 2021,” the report by the Mitchell Institute reads.

It has been reported that the UK government is aiming for a 75 percent increase in international students by 2023.

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