International Students Demand More Incentives From Universities to Study Abroad Again |

International Students Demand More Incentives From Universities to Study Abroad Again

By Linda M

Updated July 16, 2021 Updated July 16, 2021

International students think universities are not doing enough to support them in their study abroad journey. Here's why.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the greatest disruptors of the higher education industry to date.

International students have been hit hard by the travel restrictions and university closures that characterised the past year and a half. In fact, due to quarantine rules and hybrid teaching, international study has become a very different experience to what it was before the pandemic.

While this has pushed thousands of international students worldwide to delay their studies, the latest QS coronavirus report revealed that the majority (70 percent) of international students who have started their studies during the pandemic are happy to be at university regardless of changes to their surroundings.

Nevertheless, the research also revealed that international students believe that universities and business schools are not offering enough incentives to encourage them to study on campus overseas.

A lack of incentives across the board

The majority (67 percent) of current international students said that they had not been offered any kind of incentive to physically return to campus.

Of the remaining surveyed respondents, 21 percent had been offered bursaries and/or scholarships, 11 percent had been offered discounts on tuition fees, six percent had been offered discounts on accommodation during quarantine, three percent had been given money to partially cover the cost of international flights, and another three percent received ‘other’ incentives.

According to researchers, this could be due to several coronavirus-related reasons. For example, universities and business schools might perceive incentives as too much of a cost, or they might feel as if it’s currently not safe yet for students to travel abroad to study on campus.

Financial incentives take the lead

According to the survey, which asked respondents to rank incentives based on which would be the most likely to encourage them to study overseas, international students find financial incentives much more attractive than other incentives.

The incentive that would most encourage students to return to campus is a bursary or scholarship programme, with 49 percent of respondents naming it the most appealing option.

In second place is discounts on tuition fees with 36 percent of respondents choosing this initiative. This result is consistent with another finding from the report, which revealed an overwhelming 81 percent of international students believe that universities and business schools should cut tuition fees if programmes that were previously face-to-face were shifted online due to travel restrictions.

A student said: “Most universities have maintained the high tuition fees despite the global economic crisis, and have not considered the many people out there who would like to study further but can’t afford to pay the high tuition fees.”

Another student added: “The tutors are helping us as much as they can during COVID-19 but the pandemic has highly affected our jobs and the tuition fees have remained the same. The university did not recognise that online learning is not [the] same as face-to-face [teaching].

“The pandemic also reduced the opportunity of having paid work or volunteering in the same sector as […] the degree we are doing.”

The other most popular incentives chosen by international students were discounts on accommodation during quarantine (10 percent) and money to go towards international flights (seven percent).

This is likely because the prices of flights and accommodation vary from location to location, while bursaries and/or scholarships and tuition fees usually affect international students more similarly.

Vaccines can be the silver lining

The widespread distribution of vaccines against COVID-19 had already given international students hope in April 2021.

Several months later, as the rollout continues across popular destinations for international students such as western Europe and the US, survey respondents believe that universities and business schools should work with local and global governmental bodies to prioritise candidates coming from abroad.

In fact, 59 percent of respondents think that universities should require them to be fully vaccinated before they can relocate to their campuses. An additional 53 percent also believe that students should be required to have a vaccine passport before they can travel to the country of their chosen institution.

One student said: “A lot of universities are focused more on the students within their proximity. Given the travel restrictions and the increased need for vaccination passports across the world, it would be beneficial for universities to make more efforts towards international students by trying to ensure they have access virtually or even extending some scholarships to cover that and not just those that ensure that one is physically at the university.”

These are important sentiments, as they show that international students see higher education institutions as representatives of their rights to study in a safe environment.

Moreover, it highlights the power that universities and business school have in encouraging international students to get vaccinated to protect themselves and the global student community.

This article was originally published in July 2021 .

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Written by

Linda is Content Writer at TopMBA, creating content about students, courses, universities and businesses. She recently graduated in Journalism & Creative Writing with Politics and International Relations, and now enjoys writing for a student audience. 

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