Meanwhile views on the quality of education on offer in the UK have declined over the past six months.
New research from the student recruitment and marketing company suggests Australia is gaining ground with international students, with 2% more students selecting it as their preferred place of study, while Canada has declined but is still the joint top-choice.
The UK sits in third place, with 22% of students naming the country as their first choice destination, followed by the USA with 19%.
In the fourth iteration of Emerging Futures, IDP surveyed more than 10,000 prospective, applied, current and completed international students from 98 different countries.
Quality of education remains the most important consideration when deciding where to study, but students don’t rate the UK, USA and Canada as highly for this as they did in the organisation’s last survey in March 2023.
Australia is the only top four destination (Australia, Canada, UK, US) to see an increase in perceptions of education quality, possibly contributing to its growing popularity.
The opportunities for employment after graduation are the next most important factor when choosing where to study, with Australia leading the way, followed by Canada and the USA. Canada is also seen most favourably when it comes to post study work visa policies.
Catriona Jackson, CEO of Universities Australia, said Australia needs more international students “to help with the skill shortages we are seeing right across the economy”.
“The government’s new migration strategy must enable more of these talented people to remain in Australia and use their Australian education in the area they have studied when there is a clear need for their skills,” she added.
Current students in the UK reported the lowest satisfaction rates out of those studying in a top four destination, while the US was leading when it comes to student fulfilment.
Simon Emmett, IDP Connect chief executive officer, warned that the UK can no longer rely solely on its reputation for high-quality education.
”The sector must come together to promote the UK effectively”
“Global competition between destination countries for international students remains high, and the impact of perceptions of post-graduation opportunities, or lack of opportunities, continues to impact student choice,” Emmett said.
”The sector must come together to promote the UK effectively by better highlighting the holistic appeal of our universities and reinforcing a broader set of reasons why students should choose the UK.”
Data obtained by The PIE News has revealed an unexpected decline in UK university enrolment from Indian and Nigerian students.
Emmett added it is “essential to protect” important policies to students, such as the graduate visa route.
Jamie Arrowsmith, director of Universities UK International, said promoting the UK and highlighting the contributions that international students make to universities is a top priority for the organisation.
Safety is also a key consideration for international students, with 45% of those surveyed saying this was one of the reasons they picked their first choice destination. Similarly, 43% said support for international students was a key deciding factor.
IDP also asked students for the first time about their use of AI and ChatGPT. Students from China were the most likely to use ChatGPT, with approximately three-quarters saying they intended to or had used the technology to decide which institution to study at and to help them write their application.