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Postponement but no cancellation for international students

THE NETHERLANDS. International students still want to come to Europe, but more than half want to delay it by a year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the outcome of a large survey by the QS Intelligence Unit.

The British agency sent a questionnaire to almost 80 thousand youths who want to study abroad. Has the coronavirus made havoc of their plans and what do they think of distance education?

Almost 30 thousand of them want to attend a European institute: most (58 per cent) have already chosen a study programme and are in the process of completing (or have already completed) their registration. The rest (42 per cent) is still at the orientation stage.

The survey is still running, but QS is now reporting on the weeks up to the end of March, when the coronavirus spread across the world. In those weeks, the researchers saw more and more prospective students replying that the coronavirus had an impact on their plans.

Postponement

More than half of this group of potential students have postponed their study plans by a year. They don’t appear very interested in distance education as an alternative for the real thing: studying in another country.

But the group that is positive about distance education, is growing: 28 per cent now, compared to 21 per cent two years ago. Moreover, this is most likely an underestimation of the interest, because the survey was taken when the outbreak was still in its early stages.

Of those who are interested in online education, three quarters (75 per cent) states that the reason is because they can continue to work alongside their studies. Almost an equal number of students feel it is an advantage, because then it doesn’t matter where you live (72 per cent).

But the ones who prefer a regular study programme also have their arguments: they want to have access to the university’s facilities (80 per cent) and they would like to meet other students (74 per cent).

When QS was asked where the respondents are from, they would not specify. The bureau probably receives the e-mail addresses from the universities, which receive an individual report if they participate in the survey.

Brexit

By the way, QS also asked questions about the effect of Brexit on their study choices: 11 per cent now has less interest in going to Great Britain. Canada in particular has meanwhile been getting more attention from potential internationals. Within Europe, it is mainly universities in Germany, the Netherlands and France that may profit.

HOP, Bas Belleman

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