Canada tops student perceptions in IDP research

Canada has gained in terms of favourable perceptions as a study destination this year, according to recently released international student research by IDP Education, with the North American country topping four of the five indicators in the survey.

The annual International Student Buyer Behaviour Research by global higher education-focused agency group IDP Education, unveiled at the Australian International Education Conference (AIEC) last week, is based on a survey of more than 4,200 IDP clients in July this year.


Canada was the most favourably ranked destination in four of the five perception factors: affordability, safety, graduate employment opportunities and visa settings.


Lyndell Jacka, Head of Research at IDP, told StudyTravel Magazine, "We believe there are a number of factors that contribute to this shift in perceptions among IDP-surveyed students.


"Canada's welcoming student visa policies, combined with relatively favourable study and living costs and clear study-migration pathways are attractive qualities for students. Students also perceive Canada as a very safe destination. All of these factors have contributed to Canada's positive momentum."


She added, "From an IDP point of view, there was an increase in the number of students placed to Canada last financial year compared to the year prior. While we believe this is in part driven by the macro factors outlined above, we also believe our investment in building the capability and expertise of our counsellors is a key contributor to this growth."


The USA retained top position in the quality of education attribute, but lost ground to rival destinations in other indicators.


New Zealand was joint first with Canada on the visa requirements perception, and IDP said that both New Zealand and Australia were mostly unchanged compared with the previous year's survey, but had lost "relative brand strength" due to Canada's momentum.


The UK was also largely unchanged overall, although slipped in the safety category compared with recent years.


Commenting on the potential impact of political shifts in the USA, Brexit and other major events, Lyndell said, "From a research perspective, it is too early to see the full impact of some of the larger political and economic events that have taken place this year.


"What we do know is that our research over the years has shown that international students are tuned in to these larger political, social and economic changes and events. While they are sensitive to these changes, students consider a range of factors when choosing the study destination that suits them.


"As IDP represents institutions across five of the most popular English-speaking study destinations, our counsellors are able to work with students and their families to find the right destination that suits their individual needs."


Around 40 per cent of the students surveyed by IDP indicated Australia as the first-choice study destination, followed by Canada, the UK, the USA and New Zealand. IDP Education was originally established and is part-owned by a consortium of Australian universities.


For those that didn't choose Australia, the cost of tuition and cost of living were cited as the main reasons for it not being first preference, while the cost of living and better post-study work opportunities elsewhere were barriers for the UK.


The IDP survey split motivations for studying abroad into two categories: aspirational and practical factors. The 'opportunity to learn about self or the world' and 'prepare for a career' were cited as the largest aspirational factors, while global qualification recognition and quality content were the leading practical concerns.


IDP Education has been conducting the annual Buyer Behaviour report since 2012 and jointly hosts AIEC in partnership with the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA).



By Matthew Knott

News Editor