Based on an online survey of 2,800 students looking to study in either Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US or Canada, conducted in July, the study found liveability of a country is just as important as education and employment outcomes for students.
Lyndell Jackson, head of research at IDP, said it’s a given students will pick a particular city based on its proximity to their institution of study, but added: “It was the other factors that came through around liveability, such as safety, being in a diverse environment, attractive climate, all these ideas about liveability still came through strongly.
“We went through a period of students going through ‘cost shock’ once they arrived here”
“That’s what surprised me, just how high these mentions were,” she told The PIE News.
Indeed, 56% of respondents said they wanted to live in a particular city because it is the place of their institution of choice. But, the results show that 37% of students surveyed said the city’s safety was an important factor for their study decision, while just under a third (31%) of students said affordability of living and studying was a top reason for their study destination.
Of the five study destinations, Canada and New Zealand are perceived as the most affordable, followed by Australia.
However, the perceived affordability of Australia, is getting better, according to Jacka.
“A number of years ago, Australia was perceived as an affordable destination and of course our Australian dollar went up and so we lost that position,” she explained.
“And so we went through a period of students going through ‘cost shock’ once they arrived here.”
However, more recently, the value of the Australian dollar has since gone down.
“We’re seeing perceptions of being more affordable again,” Jacka said. “But we do have one in five students who are currently studying in Australia seeing it as expensive or more expensive than they thought. So there’s that whole onus of ensuring expectations are being managed before arrival.”
The UK was judged to be the most expensive place of study.
Multiculturalism was one of the top reasons for choosing a particular city as a study destination for 30% of respondents.
In terms of wanting to mix with students from home, 37% prefer “very few students from home country”, compared with 24% who prefer “lots of students from home country”.
“There’s that whole onus of ensuring expectations are being managed before arrival”
Seeking diversity in their experience on the ground was seen especially among Chinese students, according to Jacka, due to the high number of students from China travelling abroad.
“We need to be doing more in ensuring that they do get that breadth of experience and exposure to people from other cultures,” she said.
A further 25% of students also cited the city’s climate and weather as an important factor in their decision.
The study also found that around two thirds of students knew somebody living in their preferred country of choice, with 49% of respondents having direct relatives there, and another 49% knew friends in their city of study.
“It’s all social connections, that we’re all part of that connectivity which is just so important for international students,” said Jacka.
“And again comes reassurance of somebody can tell me, or I’ve got that word of mouth reassurance of what it’s going to be like when I go and live there.”