International students eager to return, but worry about safety

In perceptions of students welfare, the U.S. ranked behind Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom
By: | July 20, 2020
International students are willing to quarantine to study in the U.S. fall, but are looking to their colleges and universities to provide assistance with travel and logistics. (GettyImages/martin-dm)International students are willing to quarantine to study in the U.S. fall, but are looking to their colleges and universities to provide assistance with travel and logistics. (GettyImages/martin-dm)

International students are increasingly willing to quarantine to return to American campuses but consider the U.S. the least safe of several English-speaking countries, a survey has found.

More than three-quarters of 4,300 international students surveyed are willing to self-isolate if that’s what required to return to campus for the fall semester, according to the International Student Crossroads report by IDP Connect, a student marketing and recruiting subsidiary of IDP Education.

Student confidence in being able to resume their studies as planned has grown to 74% from 69% in the firm’s last survey in April.

“Despite the ongoing global lockdowns and travel restrictions, students remain determined to study abroad,” IDP Connect Chief Executive Officer Simon Emmett said in a news release. “Rather than focus on policy and domestic-focused rhetoric discussions, our sector must provide students and their parents with clear, practical and aligned information and support.”


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However, international students in the U.S. feel less safe. In perceptions of student welfare, the U.S. ranked behind Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Students in the survey also wanted their colleges and universities to provide assistance with travel, logistics and healthcare should they fall in in the U.S.

Compared to the firm’s earlier survey, more international students are also willing to begin the school year learning online, with the hope of eventually returning to face-to-face instruction.

“This highlights that while students are warming to the idea and understand the current situation, many are still holding out for the on-campus—and life— experience,” said Andrew Barkla, CEO of IDP Education.


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The report recommends that colleges and universities keep international students informed with comprehensive updates on reopening plans for the fall semester, how instruction will be delivered and what academic supports will be available.

Administrators can also share news on U.S. government policies that could impact international students

Finally, schools should also consider expanding enrollment in 2021 for international students who may choose to defer starting their education until the COVID pandemic is better controlled.


UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.