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Asian students more cautious about studying in UK

A sentiment survey of over 4,000 university applicants in Asia and West Africa by UKEAS has found a greater level of caution and indecision among prospective Asian students interested in studying in the UK.

AsianCovid is a concern for Asian students who have applied to study in the UK. Photo: UKEAS

“82% of West African applicants intend to enrol in September"

Conducted between April 13 and May 6 with a 35% global response rate, the report noted “82% of West African applicants intend to enrol in September, compared to 71% in Asia”.

One in five Asian applicants remained undecided compared to 11% in West Africa.

“Asian applicants expressed greater degrees of concern, overall,” the report said.

“The possibility of catching Covid was expressed as a big concern by 71% of Asian respondents, compared to just 33% in West Africa.

“The possibility of catching Covid was expressed as a big concern by 71% of Asian respondents”

“Securing a visa or flight was the second most common concern in West Africa which, in contrast, was of least concern in Asia.”

UKEAS’s business and financial analyst Jose Sosa highlighted that while the preference among students from both regions was to start classes in the UK, there was a split in preference for online studying.

Among respondents in Asia, 80% said they would be willing to start classes in-person in the UK in September 2021, while in West Africa 77% said the same.

Globally, 33% said that they would be willing to blended learning classes in the UK in September – with 32% of students in West Africa and 34% in Asia indicating they would be willing to do so.

“The majority of our respondents expressed willingness to start classes in person. Now, when you see [the results for studying] online in the UK or online in their home country, more students in West Africa are willing to actually start classes online in the UK than students in Asia,” Sosa said.

“For Asia, you see that the willingness of starting classes online in their home country is much higher.”

Some 12% of respondents in Asia said they would be willing to start their studies online in their home country, compared with the 3% of respondents in West Africa saying the same.

According to Richard Jones, head of partnerships at UKEAS, the results follow a pattern consistent with the general sentiment the company has seen in the two regions since the outbreak of the pandemic.

“In West Africa, you’ve got students who are looking to proceed with their studies and to get involved with post study work opportunities,” he said.

“Whereas in Asia, you’ll see more hesitancy in terms of willing to enrol and more people who are waiting to see what happens.

“Of those who responded to the survey, the percentage looking to the enrol this September, from both regions, is very encouraging indeed.”

The report also found that universities had worked hard to communicate with applicants during the coronavirus pandemic.

“In both West Africa and Asia, the majority of applicants would like more information regarding the arrival process, how classes will be delivered and the UK’s efforts to vaccinate and protect the population,” the report read.

Globally, some 62% of respondents said they need more information on the arrival process, including among other points, transfers, quarantine and testing.

“In Asia, the majority of students would like to hear measures being taken to protect students from Covid”

“In Asia, the majority of students would also like to hear measures being taken to protect students from Covid,” the paper added.

In West Africa, 53% of respondents agreed that universities had done a good job informing them of measures being taken to protect students against Covid. In Asia, 45% said the same.

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