A new survey has revealed that the UK student visa has become a more attractive proposition for international students because of Britain’s vaccine success. According to the poll, the UK is a more popular destination than Australia, Canada, Germany and the US.
The results of the survey come despite a widespread perception that the UK government mishandled its initial response to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the poll, 47% of prospective international students said they would be more likely to opt for the UK to study because of the country’s vaccination rate.
Nearly a fifth of respondents (17%) said that they thought the UK government was handling the vaccine rollout better than anywhere else. The survey received 105,083 responses from students looking to attend university abroad, and the UK emerged as a more popular destination than Australia, Canada, Germany and the USA.
Effectiveness and speed of vaccine rollout
The post-survey report, authored by university rankings provider QS, said: “The effectiveness and speed of the rollout is making the UK seem a more attractive and viable destination to begin their studies in September compared to some other countries.”
However, despite enthusiasm surrounding the vaccine rollout, 45% of the international students surveyed felt that the UK had failed to correctly handle its wider response to the pandemic effectively, ranking lower than Australia, Canada, Germany and New Zealand.
The report speculated that this was because of the world wide coverage of the UK’s high COVID-19 death rate.
Director of Universities UK International (UUKi), Vivienne Stern, said: “The survey shows that UK universities have remained resilient throughout what has been a difficult year. However, they and the government will need to listen closely to international students’ concerns and priorities to sustain high recruitment levels.”
Study plans brought forward
The survey also revealed that 17% of respondents had brought forward their plans to study abroad because of COVID-19 vaccines, while more than half (56%) said that they were focusing their search on countries where a successful vaccine program has been implemented.
Meanwhile, two-thirds of respondents (58%) felt that the UK was becoming ‘more welcoming’ toward international students following the reintroduction of post-study work visas, after years of UK immigration policies that were seemingly hostile toward foreign students.
However, European students perceived the UK to be less welcoming following Brexit because they will have to pay higher tuition fees from September 2021.
Overseas applications hit highest level
Despite initial concerns that applications to study at UK universities would decline because of the country’s high infection rate and death toll, overseas applications actually hit their highest level in 2020.
However, many international students are angry about having to pay full tuition fees when most of their classes are currently online because of successive lockdowns. In March, 300 international students across several London universities refused to pay their £29,000 tuition fees in protest to the response of their universities to the pandemic.
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