The latest Navitas Agent Perception Survey of 880 agents across 68 countries identified the seven most important factors influencing student choice, with cost, post-study work access and education quality selected as the top three.
The report also broke down the leading factors in respective source regions.
Fee and living costs were seen as the most important aspect in six of the 10 global regions: South Asia; South East Asia; North Asia; Central Asia; MENA; and Europe.
Opportunities to work while studying were most important in both ANZ and the Americas, while Greater China was an exception where 80% of agents in the region indicated institutional ranking as most important.
Market Insights lead at Navitas, Janhvi Doshi, said the findings showed it is “immediately apparent” that there is significant difference between influences for students from Greater China and South Asia.
Only two of five factors – cost of study and quality of education – overlap between the regions, Doshi noted.
While ranking was top in Greater China, agents in South Asia placed it as seventh most important factor. Safety and security was also placed highly among those from China, while South Asian agents ranked it eighth. Factors relating to employment were seen as most important among respondents from South Asia.
This fourth round of the survey has also seen the importance attached to cost and ranking rise among agents in China.
“Agents have seen a significant uptick in K-12 business for Australia and Canada”
While the March 2021 survey saw cost placed fifth, the latest round – completed in October 2022 – saw cost selected as second most important, with 77% of agents citing it as an important factor.
“Another notable movement we’ve seen is the rise of institute ranking as a factor between the last two rounds,” Doshi added.
In May 2022, 68% of agents in Greater China said it was a top factor. By October, ranking climbed up to top factor overall, cited by 80% of respondents from the region.
Navitas regional sales director for Greater China, Kim Eklund, also pointed to a “genuine increase in interest in the opportunity to obtain destination PR/citizenship that is linked in part to COVID’s impact on the economy and job prospects”.
“Agents have seen a significant uptick in K-12 business for Australia and Canada, which is often tied to longer term or permanent plans,” Eklund said. “Other factors that will increase in importance are post-study work opportunities and the cost of study, which also haven’t been such a high priority in many years from China.”
Research from August 2022 suggested that students in China were still highly influenced by concerns around the pandemic, while other regions had returned to “traditional” influences.
However, the report found that overall the outlook for the sector among agent respondents was largely positive, with 80% indicating that there will be “a much larger number of students from their country” studying abroad in the next 10 years.
Agents were also asked which study destinations are “winning” among factors of influencing. The UK is leading on visa processing, with Australia not far behind, the survey indicated.
While no clear winner emerges overall among the UK, Australia and Canada for cost, Australia is seen as slightly favoured over its competitors for access to post-study work rights and opportunities to work while studying.
Canada was seen as the most appealing destination for opportunities for permanent migration.
Among respondents from Greater China, the top three factors – ranking, cost and safety and security – the UK, Australia and Canada are also “notably balanced”.
However, there seems to be stronger consensus beyond the top three factors, Doshi suggested.
“Aligned to our broader understanding of the market, the UK and US come out stronger than Canada and Australia on quality of education, and Canada and Australia dominate on opportunities for migration.
“Greater China might continue to bifurcate as a market”
“This suggests that Greater China might continue to bifurcate as a market – students who care most about ranking will go to the UK or US, while students who are less focused on prestige and/or are price sensitive may select Canada or Australia.”
Australia is dominating three out of the top five factors for South Asia, Doshi continued.
While cost is largely balanced across Australia, UK and Canada – with the latter having “a slight edge” – Australia has a clear dominance for the next two most cited factors, access to post-study work rights and opportunities to work while studying.
Over 55-60% of respondents selected Australia as the most appealing destination for these factors, Doshi said.
“While the UK does feature in every factor, the destination stands out as a clear winner only on visa processing, while Canada comes up top on permanent migration.
“These results suggest we are going to see a continued surge in demand for Australia from South Asia in the coming months.”