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Students say UK and US are “visa unfriendly”

The UK has the worst post-study work rights of the top four English speaking study destinations while the US is the least visa friendly, a student decision making survey from IDP has revealed. However, both destinations are thought to offer the best education – still the most important factor when deciding where to study abroad.

The survey revealed motivations for studying abroad in the Middle East and Asia

The IDP Student Buyer Survey revealed how 174 students from Asia and the Middle East viewed the major English speaking destination countries, how they obtained information about countries and institutions, and the key factors that drove their choices about where to study.

“Our aim with this study is to give institutions guidance on how students go about making the decisions on which country to choose and which institution to enrol in,” IDP’s head of research, Lyndell Jacka told The PIE News.

Not surprisingly, students said that the most important drivers for studying abroad were quality of education (cited by 17%) and international recognition of qualifications (16%). This was followed by recognition of qualification in the home country (12%), employment opportunities after graduation (10%) and affordability (7%).

However, other motivations varied regionally. While all students thought international ranking/ reputation was most important when choosing an institution abroad, beyond this attractive course structure/ content was key for Indians, international recognition by potential employers for Chinese, and affordability for those from the Middle East.

“The results of the study confirm our experience in the field, which is that students in different countries and regions do have different motivations and drivers which institutions need to take into account,” Jacka said.

“Students in different countries and regions do have different motivations and drivers”

The study also revealed the strong influence of social media on study abroad decisions with 60% of Chinese saying it had influenced them, 30% of Indians and 27% of Middle Eastern students.

Interestingly instant messaging was the favourite form of social media in China (with 78% using Tencent QQ), while social networking was favoured in India and the Middle East with 84% and 88% using Facebook. Just 48% of Chinese students mentioned using a social network (RenRen).

Said Jacka: “We think that [social media] will only increase in importance as a way of communicating with students.”

While the UK and US led as quality destinations, students said Australia had the best post-study work opportunities (followed by the US), while Canada was most affordable, safe and visa friendly. The UK was said to be the least affordable.

IDP said the survey findings were preliminary and that more results based on a larger sample study would be released in October. “We want to understand as much as we can about how [students] make the choice and the sources of information they rely on,” Jacka said.

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