98% of international students upbeat about UK and US universities as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease

UAB Health Students in the Classroom

Global survey by INTO indicates strong confidence in studying abroad as students link it with improved career prospects.

(LONDON / NEW YORK): An overwhelming majority of international students are upbeat about starting their programmes in UK and US universities this autumn as COVID-19 restrictions continue to be lifted gradually.

A global survey conducted by INTO University Partnerships, a leading international education organisation, shows that 98% of overseas students, who currently hold offers from universities in the UK and the US, are excited about starting their term in autumn.

A total of 625 students from 80 countries – including China, India, Brazil, Nigeria, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia – took part in the survey.

Infographic featuring international student next to pie graph showing 98% of students are excited about beginning their studies abroad in the UK and US.

"The survey results prove that seeking an international degree in the UK and the US remains hugely popular among overseas students despite the challenges and uncertainties brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This confidence and interest are positive signs of recovery for the higher education sector, which has suffered tremendous losses due to the pandemic," said Olivia Streatfeild, CEO of INTO University Partnerships

International students are estimated to contribute more than US$300 billion to the global economy annually. In the UK they add US$32 billion (or £21.6 billion) to the national economy, whereas for the US the figure stands at over US$38 billion.

In the survey conducted in June 2021, students voted on a variety of reasons for their interest in studying abroad. Improving future career prospects came out as the top priority as 75% students listed it as the main reason for seeking an international degree.

"Pre-covid the world of work was already intensely competitive, and the pandemic has radically altered the job market. International students will need greater support on employability to make their investment worthwhile. This gap must be addressed to sustain the strong interest in international education," said Ms Streatfeild.

In addition to employability, around two thirds of the students surveyed highlighted high-quality teaching (69%), inter-cultural exchange (62%) and the experience of learning with students from across the world (62%) as key reasons they are looking forward to studying abroad. 

Infographic featuring pie graphs showing 75% of international students most look forward to improving their future career prospects when studying abroad, 69% to receiving high-quality teaching and 62% to learning with students from around the world.

"What excites me most is to be able to study and communicate with the best students in the world in an academic environment," said a student from China.

"Everything about this journey is exciting. Right from the campus and people that I am going to meet. Also, the opportunity to experience diverse cultures," said a student from India.

"What excites me the most is meeting new people from all over the world, getting the chance to become more independent and confident with myself, as well as getting the best quality of teaching," said a student from Bahrain.

Apart from pandemic-related anxieties, prospective international students also expressed worries about overseas study.  These range from concerns about adjusting to a new environment, shared by 35% of all students surveyed, to feeling homesick, shared by 19% of students.  However, nine in ten students (91%) indicated they thought universities or international education organisations like INTO could help them with their concerns.  

Infographic featuring international student next to pie graph showing 91% of international students feel that universities or international education organizations like INTO can help ease their worries.

Highlights from the survey:

  • 98% of students are excited to begin studying abroad; 52% indicated they are very excited and cannot wait to start, and 46% indicated they are a little anxious but still excited
  • Students bound for the US are the most excited about starting their journey – nearly two thirds (63%) indicate they are very excited and cannot wait to start
  • 75% of students are most looking forward to improving their future career prospects through studying abroad, while 69% are most looking forward to receiving high-quality teaching
  • 91% of students think universities or international education organisations like INTO can help ease their worries
  • 36% of students want universities or international education providers like INTO to help them adapt to a new environment


For media enquiries, please contact:

Davinder Kumar (London, United Kingdom)
Vice President, Corporate & Public Relations
INTO University Partnerships
Email: davinder.kumar@intoglobal.com
Mobile: +44 (0) 7393802367

JP Deering (Washington, DC, United States)
Senior Corporate Communications Advisor
INTO University Partnerships
Email: john.deering@intoglobal.com
Mobile: +1 (859) 351 9611


About INTO University Partnerships:

INTO University Partnerships is an independent organisation committed to expanding higher education and career opportunities for students across the globe.  

We believe in the power of education to transform lives. We believe that movement of students leads to movement of ideas, which in turn creates better and more successful societies.  

We connect students seeking quality international education with leading universities worldwide aspiring to widen their global reach and impact. Achieving the best learning experience and career prospects for students is central to our mission.  

Since our inception in 2005, INTO has pioneered innovation in international education and created groundbreaking partnerships with 30 universities in the US and UK. We have so far helped more than 130,000 students from 190 countries realise their dream of achieving a degree from a world-class university. We also equip students to get a head start in building a career. We do this by offering exceptional academic and employability skills programmes.

We are active in over 120 countries and provide unrivalled personalised service to international students with more than 1,500 experienced staff worldwide and a global network of 2,000 recruitment partners. 

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