The survey was commissioned by IEAA, and its first round ran between September 4 and September 16. The research had 1,080 responses from students studying at 25 Australian universities.
“Just as international students have been impacted by travel restrictions, local university students in Australia have also been affected”
Study Move sought to discover if the Covid-19 pandemic will reduce the demand of students enrolled at Australian universities to undertake Learning Abroad experiences in 2021.
The survey also explored whether students believe this decision may or may not impact their overall study experience and future employability goals.
“This study reminds us that international education is a “two-way street”,” Keri Ramirez, managing director of Study Move, told The PIE News.
“Just as international students have been impacted by travel restrictions, local university students in Australia have also been affected which has impacted the mission of the international education sector to offer students outbound mobility study options,” he said.
The importance of studying abroad for large numbers of students was highlighted by the report.
Some 84% of respondents said it was fairly and very important for their overall university study experience that they have the opportunity to undertake an international study experience as part of their degree.
Ramirez told The PIE that while the priority is to look after the health and safety of students, Study Move believes that it is essential that universities “work together to assess the viability of alternatives such as virtual experiences or travel bubbles to minimise the negative effects created by Covid-19 and related travel restrictions”.
“Unfortunately, for the first time in decades, we may see the first generation of university students unable to access Learning Abroad experiences. This domino effect has consequences which reach far beyond a missed overseas travel experience,” he said.
The survey showed that the opportunity to improve employability skills while studying abroad was a significant draw for students.
Source: Study Move
Some 55% said that it was fairly or very important that an international study experience offers them an opportunity to build their employability skills.
The research showed that students aren’t always aware of virtual experiences that have been put in place to help mitigate the disruption to physical travel abroad.
Some 54% of 886 respondents said that they were not aware of virtual experiences. Just 16% said they would consider undertaking a virtual overseas experience, and 50% said that they would not consider such opportunities.
Source: Study Move
Ramirez suggested that there are opportunities for institutions to further promote virtual opportunities and outline the benefits of undertaking these experiences and how the experience may enhance their employability skills.
“Interestingly, the results related to virtual experiences vary significantly across universities. As a result, we believe that there is room for further collaboration across the sector.
“If universities work together to explore opportunities and solutions to be able to provide students with Learning Abroad experiences and virtual experiences, we believe the students will engage with their universities with enthusiasm to work out the best plan forward to enhance their student experience,” he added.