Universities in Australia and Canada lose in global ranking as international students struggle cost of living

Australia has surpassed 700,000 international students, contributing to a new record of 2.8 million temporary entrants in the country.

In a dynamic turn of events, a recent report by IDP Education has revealed a notable transformation in the preferences of international students regarding study destinations, particularly in the United States, Australia, and Canada.

Australia and Canada, once standing shoulder to shoulder at the forefront, have seen a shift in their positions, now trailing behind in second and fourth places respectively.

The prominent deterrents cited are the soaring costs of living and education, marking a significant sway in the aspirations of prospective international students.

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Image: ennealle O’Shannessy, the managing director of IDP Education (Source: IDP)

Speaking to AAP, Tennealle O’Shannessy, the managing director of IDP Education, expressed concern over the impact of governmental measures on international student demand.

She said:

“As governments in some countries adopt measures which impact international students, demand is inevitably being affected and it is increasingly difficult for driven and bright students across the world to pursue their global goals.”

While Australia’s ranking as a preferred study destination witnessed a marginal decrease of two percent to 23 percent compared to mid-2023, student satisfaction levels have managed to hold steady.

In February 2024, Australia has surpassed 700,000 international students, contributing to a new record of 2.8 million temporary entrants in the country.

The United States claimed the top spot with a commanding 24 percent, closely followed by Australia at 23 percent, then Britain with 22 percent, Canada with 19 percent, New Zealand with 4 percent, and Ireland with 2 percent.

The IDP report observed that tuition fees and the cost of living emerged as the foremost deterrents for international students considering Australia for their education journey. On the flip side, factors such as education quality, employment prospects, and value for money emerged as pivotal drivers in the decision-making process for prospective students.

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Image: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (Source: ALP)

Amidst these shifts, the Albanese government has initiated a crackdown on ghost colleges and student visas, aiming to refine the overall migration strategy by implementing crucial recommendations from the migration review.

These recommendations encompass: raising the English language criteria for student visas; granting authorities new capabilities to halt high-risk educational institutions from enrolling international students; and introducing a new genuine student assessment to more effectively deter individuals seeking to enter Australia primarily for work rather than study.

By targeting universities deemed at higher risk of admitting students for work rather than study, the Albanese government hopes to streamline the migration process and uphold the integrity of the education system.

Image: Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil (Source: ALP)

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil has said the government has been successful in reducing net migration and the goal of returning migration to pre-pandemic levels was clear.

“Since September, the government’s actions have led to substantial declines in migration levels, with recent international student visa grants down by 35 per cent on the previous year. The actions this weekend will continue to drive migration levels down while delivering on our commitments in the Migration Strategy to fix the broken system we inherited.”

The research report draws insights from a diverse pool of 11,500 prospective, applied, and current international students hailing from 117 countries, providing a comprehensive understanding of the evolving dynamics in global education preferences.

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