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Environmental studies attracts in global south

Student interest in environmental studies & earth sciences in universities across the world is relatively higher in the Global South than in the developed world, perhaps driven by the fact that effects of climate are more keenly felt in the southern hemisphere, new analysis shows.

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The majority of students pursuing the studies were however after masters degree programs, as opposed to undergraduate ones

The data by higher education advisory company Studyportals shows that while student interest in the fields remained flat in the rest of the world, it has experienced spikes in the developing world between 2018-2021.

The Interest and search volume for programs hit a high of 200,000 in 2018 and 2021 respectively suggesting that the two fields were a “niche discipline”, said Jacopo Gutterer, analytics consultant at Studyportals. The interest however declined slightly just before the Covid-19 outbreak to volumes below 200,000.

Interest was particularly high in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, Central and Latin America as well as parts of Asia. On the other hand, moderate interest was recorded in North America, most of Latin America and in the Pacific countries including Australia.

“The biggest quest for the disciplines stretches mainly over the south-central part of the globe. It’s important to highlight Western Europe and North America as they are highly responsive for this topic,” the analyst noted.

“The biggest quest for the disciplines stretches mainly over the south-central part of the globe”

In terms of destinations, the UK, Germany, Canada, US and the Netherlands were the countries of choice for students seeking to study in the disciplines, the data indicates.

“While developing new programs it’s important to make informed decisions. Insights discovered can be turned into valuable opportunities around environmental studies & earth sciences discipline,” said Gutterer.

“While the top destinations in 2021 may have a head-start in recruitment, there are plenty of opportunities also for other destinations. It will depend on the combination of program and country and how it will resonate with your target audience,” he further observed.

Interestingly throughout the study period it was established that the majority of students pursuing the studies were however after masters degree programs, as opposed to undergraduate ones.

At the same time, the analysis found out that most of the students enrolled in the programs preferred to study on a full-time basis was slightly higher than the global average. “This means that students are more interested in studying these programs full-time only and it may be better to consider focusing on that format rather than others,” the author observed.

In terms of popularity, the Environmental Economics & Policy program was found to be the most preferred sub-discipline gaining a big share of interest over the years in focus. It rose by four positions over the period becoming one of the most sought- after top five sub-disciplines.

It was also observed to have a steep growth in traffic in 2020 a trend that was sustained through into 2021. “Whether such changes are temporary or reflective of long-lasting trends in student interest, it is important to keep student interest monitored in a changing global context,” it was observed

On the other hand, the Hydrology & Water Management program recorded a decline in interest dropping by three positions over the period.

“To reach the biggest share of potential audience, it’s important to work on proper messaging. Different types of messaging will work for different audiences hence, what works for students from the US may not work for students from India,” Studyportals concluded.

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