What are the most important study abroad decision-making factors for international students?

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Study abroad: Students and families are increasingly looking at affordable destinations Verbalists Education Beyond Borders Podcast

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Affordability has become a main factor for international students when choosing their study abroad destination.

Agents responding to the latest ICEF Agent Voice survey said that students are prioritizing affordability above all else this year when deciding where to study abroad. Three-quarters of agents said that “cost of study and living” is the most important factor for students, above even work and immigration opportunities.

Affordability has become a main factor for international students when choosing their study abroad destination, PRODIREKT
“When planning their study abroad, which are your students’ most important decision-making factors?” Source: ICEF Agent Voice, January-May 2022

In a separate survey ICEF undertook this summer, agents named countries such as Germany, South Korea, Spain, Italy, France, and Japan as destinations that are attracting more student interest than in the past. Not coincidentally, studying in these countries is often less expensive than in the leading English-speaking destinations of Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US.

It is important to note though that students comparing destinations should factor in both tuition and cost of living when deciding whether they can afford to study there. Lack of tuition does not necessarily mean students will need a small budget to study in one country. For example, while international students do not pay tuition in Norway, Norway is not known for affordable cost of living.

In addition to questions about tuition fees, costs of living, and the availability of scholarships, educators should also be prepared to answer students’ queries about the opportunity to work while studying. ICEF’s agent survey in the summer of 2022 revealed that the ability to work during studies is currently even more important to many prospective students than post-study work opportunities.

Going forward into 2023, we can anticipate that more students will be carefully evaluating costs of living and studying in their decision-making about where to study. Last week, World Bank issued a grim assessment, stating that global growth is slowing sharply, with further slowing likely as more countries fall into recession. If this trend persists it will be particularly devastating for people in developing economies which happen to be top source markets for international students.

Source: ICEF Monitor

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