In the past, the attractiveness of study abroad destinations were largely determined by their approaches to post-study work rights and immigration policies. For example, Canada owes its popularity to its welcoming immigration policies, while UK saw their growth curtailed by anti-immigration policies and then saw renewed interest when the post-study work rights were recently restored.
Though immigration policies of governments will continue to be a major factor in determining the popularity of study destinations, another unprecedented factor is likely to play a significant role in affecting countries gain or lose market share of international students in 2021 – i.e. the vaccination rates in destination countries.
This is because higher the vaccination rate in a population, the less able COVID can circulate, and this paves the way for economies to emerge from lockdowns and for schools and universities to re-open to in-person learning. In a global IDP Connect Survey conducted in October 2020, more than half (56%) of international students said they were likely to switch destinations on the basis of which destination offered in-person learning.
So far, Canada has vaccinated just 2.6% of its population as of February 2021, compared to 15% in the UK and 10% in the US (Israel is the world leader with close to 6 in 10 Israelis already vaccinated). Infection rates have been higher in the US and UK than in Canada throughout the pandemic, but they are coming down. PM Boris Johnson’s government is sounding increasingly confident that schools will reopen by the target date of 8 March 2021. In the US, Dr. Anthony Fauci believes that herd immunity could be well underway by this summer if more than 50% of the population is vaccinated.
Currently, the US average of daily vaccinations is more than 1.3 million vaccinations a day. President Biden’s target is to have 100 million Americans vaccinated in his first 100 days in office. Beyond this, the president’s immigration approach is making the US more attractive again for international students.
As for Australia, schools and universities have been hard-hit by their government’s restrictive border policies. But there is hope on the horizon because Australia’s vaccination strategy looks solid – though it is not yet underway. From March, Australia hopes to vaccinate at least 4% of the population every week, and the government has also announced that international students will be eligible for the vaccine at NO COST. Education Minister Alan Tudge has suggested that once the vaccine is rolled out, a recovery for the international education sector would likely take hold quickly.
New Zealand, on the other hand, has decided to follow a different approach, under which it may take a full year before the entire population of 5 million gets access to vaccines. The government has said that the slower rollout is an altruistic recognition that the need for vaccines is far greater in other countries given New Zealand’s incredibly low infection rates. But opposition to the plan is mounting as more infectious and possibly more deadly variants are emerging in quarantine facilities and vaccine deliveries are not scheduled to reach New Zealand until late March.
China’s population is massive, and the drive to vaccinate all 1.4 billion citizens is a daunting challenge. For herd immunity to be achieved, 60 – 72% of a country’s residents must be vaccinated. Another complication is that China’s own approved vaccine, Sinopharm, has been shown to be only 79% effective in preventing COVID. By the end of January, only about 1.6% of China’s population had received their first shot of the vaccine.
In the EU, vaccination programs have been subject to increasing skepticism. One in three French think that the vaccines are unsafe, the highest figure in any country. 40% of people in Poland and Hungary say they would reject a COVID vaccine if offered. In Italy, the Five Star Movement won power in part due to their avid fear-mongering about vaccines.
The current vaccination plans of governments indicate to us that normalcy could be restored in early 2022, with in-person learning again becoming the norm. We, at Migratesmart, are committed to updating you on all that will transpire in the coming days.
Source : ICEF