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Decision to study abroad is a “family affair”

Canada’s reign on top of IDP Connect’s International Student Buyer Behaviour Research has continued during a year of limited change in perceptions. Meanwhile, the organisation’s first survey of parents, conducted with Austrade, found the decision to go overseas was a “family affair”.

Canada continues its reign, as decision-making revealed to be a "family affair". Photo: Guillaume Jaillet/UnsplashCanada continues its reign, as decision-making revealed to be a "family affair". Photo: Guillaume Jaillet/Unsplash

"When they're meeting people face-to-face the parents are coming along with them"

Released at the 2019 AIEC, the survey took in responses from more than 2,300 students and 720 parents on Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and US, finding only three changes across the five indicators form 2018.

“Can just whisperings of changes in policy actually make an impact? For me, maybe it can”

“Because of the robustness of the search, we’re not really seeing particularly much year-on-year change, so it’s hard to budge Canada out of those top spots,” explained Jonah Duffin, chief marketing officer at IDP Connect.

Of the changes seen, the UK improved in its perception of visa requirements, while New Zealand and Australia lost ground for safety.

Conducted before the announcement the UK would reintroduce post-study work rights, Duffin told The PIE News that the country’s shift in perceptions appeared to be influenced by speculation.

“Can just whisperings of changes in policy actually make an impact? For me, maybe it can,” he said.

“It’s quite a transactional material investment decision that the student’s making: if I invest this much, can I afford to invest this much and if I do, will I get the return on investment?”

For the first time, the survey also gauged parents’ perceptions, finding they had a more significant influence on where students studied over course.

While 80% of students said subject and course was entirely their decision, only 54% said the same for the country. Parents meanwhile, the sole decision-makers for city and country or study 37% and 38% of the time, respectively.

Duffin said the findings had substantial implications for industry marketers and recruiters in terms of the timing for when to include information of interest to parents.

“I think what you’re seeing is the course and the subject is the students’ decision; the parents say that, the students say that,” Duffin said.

“Students are… doing a lot of online research on their own… but they acknowledge when they get further down the journey when they’re meeting people face-to-face the parents are coming along with them.”

Canada released its latest international education strategy in mid-2019, which some in the country criticised for not including more around access to work for international students.

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