Has the pandemic redirected international student flows forever?


Needless to say that the pandemic caused significant changes in the students’ flow. Even still now, the covid situation is redirecting the international students’ recruitment motion greatly. Now the question is – how long will it stick? You will find the answer here.

Today, we have arranged this session with the most relevant terms and facts to help you estimate the possibilities and understand the higher education student recruitment flow. Here you will find the significant factors working as the directory point the timeline of abroad students signing up.

Moreover, Simun Baker (Data Editor) has shared his analysis, which has come up with 5 major recruiting nations’ enrollment data and all. So, you will also get the analytical information that portrays the international enrollment flow over the past two years. 


The everlasting effect of the Covid 19 Pandemic on the international Student flows.

The manipulating factors directing the students’ flow are border restrictions, random national strategies for Covid situations, and the Changing demographics. Based on these factors, conditions are changing dramatically. It is not difficult to estimate the long-lasting effects of the covid pandemic on overseas college students by analysing the 5 significant recruiting nations Enrollment data. Let’s peek into what surveys say! 

The UK

Surprisingly, the United Kingdom has significantly increased the number of enrolled students in their universities. In contrast, other countries have no end of trouble to a standstill to their previous records. The UK has always kept its border open for international students.

There are many dramatic ups and downs in the international admission flows of the UK. Such as, at the very beginning of the lockdown in 2020, the UK’s student visa services overseas gradually slowed down. However, it was not for a very long time, and lately, it has gone up remarkably. 

Significantly, the Chinese and Indian students started to enrol for the Autumn Intake. However, they were studying without going to the campus via online tuition classes initially. 

Now, I would like to come to the UK enrolments data of 2020-21. Here you can see that including the overseas students of the online teaching classes or virtual school, they managed to escape the enormous disaster that they feard in the beginning time. 

Moreover, you will see that the fortunes of the Universities from the UK have diversity in their international students’ recruitment. Such as, The University of Glasgow and The University of York had a 40 per cent and 32 per cent rise in non-UK college students’ enrollment. On the other hand, The University of Liverpool and the University of Newcastle had 18 and 15 per cent fall respectively. 

The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) shared the Visa data and statistics for undergraduate applications that specify that there will be enormous opportunities for overseas students in the new academic year. Even the number of Visa grants (4,30,000 Visa including for the dependants) is now nearly double compared to the last year.

The students’ flow is changing their path in terms of destination and in terms of the country of origin. For example, for UK Universities, China has been the most significant source, but now the biggest source of overseas students has shifted to India. If you compare the data of September 2021 with 2019, there is only a 13 per cent increase in the Student Visa Issuance. 

On the other hand, there is a 197 per cent increase in Visa grants for students from India. Meanwhile, the rise is 368 per cent for the Nigeria Country. The student Visa grants were only 8000, whereas now it has reached the peak of around 37000. 

The UK plans to target India and Nigeria to draw international students as a part of their international Education Strategy. Moreover, they set the target of global student requirement to 6,00,000, which has already been accomplished. 

You might want to know the reason for such changing behaviour like tend to try to get students from the countries like India or Nigeria. Let me remind you that it is just the after-effect of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

The UK has seen almost 53 per cent drop straight down at high-speed in the acceptance of EU students onto undergraduate students. To fill the recruitment gap, the UK emphasises drawing students from non-European countries. Obviously, except for some exceptional cases. 

You can grab this good fortune to fly for any renowned university in the UK with our help. We are always here to help you with all the relevant information and procedures you need. What you need to do is just to contact us.


Australia’s border was closed almost for the past two years, And in the November of 2021, it declared its new announcement that was that AUS drops pre-approval requirements for overseas students. But within a short time, there was a dew declaration. Aus government just shut its border just the eve of their opening. The new announcement brought tremendous changes to the flow of international college students. 

Australia’s research insights tell us that almost 5 lakh 60 thousand students used to study in Australian universities. In contrast, now the number of students (who have their student visa) has decreased to nearly half. You can guess the rate of the fall of international students going to the Australian universities.

Unfortunately, these figures also include the students who have their VISA but are continuing their studies through online learning.

Generally, Chinese Students tend to study more in foreign universities, including Australian Universities. But still, among 12000 valid educational visa holders, only one-third of students were inside Australia. And the rest of them were enrolled in other foreign universities. It was a statistic from 2021. Here you can see the significant changes in the number of students going to Australian universities. 

Besides, the students who are continuing their studies in Australia mostly completed their multi-year courses. That means the number of new students was literally low. 

So far, we have been talking about Chinese students. Now we are going to talk about Indian students. The situation is not less bad here. Let us have a look at the statistical data here.  

But, anyhow, Australia opens its border again after the 14 days break. Besides, they launched a new international education strategy in the November of 2021 for the 2022 new academic year. Australia boosts work rights and strategic funding for overseas master’s graduates, showing that they are well aware of their current situation. The decision is definitely worth appreciating. 

Still, it is a matter of concern that the effect of the covid situation is going to be long-lasting. The mouth recommendations from the students who have suffered will affect the international student flow for a long time, affecting their revenue from the educational sector.


The United States

Among northern hemisphere countries, the United States has brought out the most detailed survey data on overseas student admission for the new academic year (2022). 

The Institute of International Students (IIE) had covered a survey on 860 institutions, and it shows a 60 per cent increase in new enrollments of international college students. The magnitude of return to a normal condition after such a difficult situation is worth appreciating. 

The US has seen a problematic situation from 2019 to 2020. There was a 46 per cent drop in international student entrants. But, now they have managed to decrease the problematic situation in a good way. 

As per IIE’s report, the total number of enrolled students has a rose by 8% in the autumn. But, in 2020- 21, around 7,10,000 students were admitted, and the amount in total and the amount was 8,50,000 the year before. It was definitely a fall that was covered by the US universities in the autumn of 2021. The universities have a very long way to go. 

IIE has started to include offshore learners in its data because many enrolled students are continuing their studies offshore due the travel restrictions or Covid concentrations. 

Recent studies from the IIE snapshot say that the Chinese student enrolments have a 15 per cent fall. The number of Chinese students is 3,17,000. If you look for India, it has a comparatively lower fall that is 13 per cent, with a student of 1,68,000. From the beginning of the pandemic, the magnitude of issuing Visas for students from China has remained static. But they bounced back after the break. At that time, the Indian students kept continuing the issuance of student Visas till the end of 2020. 

Moreover, the rebound is also not the same in the Universities. If I go with the snapshot survey of Times Higher Education, you can see diversity in the experience of the top 50 World Universities. You know that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a reputed University for sure. The student flow from China was increased by 7%, whereas the flow from India was dropped by 4% (in 2021-22).



Canada is doing quite well on its international admissions. Its recent official enrolment data shows that Canada has managed to hit the number of 2,40,000 overseas students recruitment. The growth rate is almost 40 per cent over the four years.

If you look into the country’s journey during the Covid pandemic, you will get a clear picture of its latest updates. 

The institution issues study permits to let them travel to Canada. In recent years, many students have received study permits that show a strong rebound. Moreover, the number of permits issued in august of 2021 is high compared to the number of 2018. Student recruitment Platform Apply Board’s report had sustained the information when it said that around 1,75,000 permits were issued in the first half of the year 2021. In 2020, the number was just half of the latest year. 

Yes, you are seeing that Canada has managed to climb higher and brought good times back, but the journey was still not so smooth. The magnitude of mobility had seen ups and downs like in other countries. 

At the beginning of 2021, there was a problem in the application process for study permits. Consequently, there were failure issues, and the regular issuances target was not filled up. It might affect the later international admissions number. It is estimated that the great sources of overseas students like China and India might be drawn to other countries as a result of admission failure frustrations. It can redirect the regular student flow in a great way. 

Let’s talk about the top two Universities of Canada that was ranked by the Times Higher Education. They answered THE’s request and shared their enrollment data which shows a great fall in recruitment rate from China. McGill University and the University of British Columbia say that the fall was 6% and 4%, respectively. Still, we can say none of the universities has suffered any significant loss. As per the latest news or research, enrolments from India was 50% higher than in 2019. And in total, the rate was 6% higher when you count the total international enrolments for British Columbia. 



Usually, Germany has a record of recruiting fewer students from non-European countries. If you look at the statistics of Germany’s International recruitment, the picture is changing in recent years. 

Let’s have a look at the statistics from Federal Statistical Office.

Year Overall Student China India
2010-11 185,000 23,000 5,000
2019-20 320,000 41,000 25,000


Germany is increasing its international Admissions. China and India are also potential sources of overseas students from non-European countries. You can also see the comparative analysis of Germany’s new enrollment in 2019  with other countries like the UK and Canada. Please have a look at the following data shared from UNESCO. 

Germany 330,000
Canada 280,000
United Kingdom 490,000
Australia 510,000

From the above table, it is easier to notice that Germany is doing good more than Canada in international intakes and not very far away from the UK and Australia. 

Germany has seen rarer changes in its global student flow during the pandemic. For instance, in the 2021-21 academic year, there was crept up of around 2 per cent (though China has a slight fall in issuing residency permits which are about 13 per cent. Here, India is staying ahead in travelling to Germany during the pandemic for sure. 

Looking to the future of international student’s mobility

It is for sure that the statistics of only 5 countries can not portray the re-directing map of the future clearly. Still, it is not totally ignorable. You can have a guess of the magnitude of the mobility of international students. 


According to Janet Ilieva, the founder of International Mobility Research Consultancy Education Insight, the early data of the beginning of the Covid pandemic of the countries which has restricted travel rules shows that the UK and Canada are doing better than other countries in enrolling international students. 

Moreover, there was a survey conducted on the recruitment agents. As per their statement, future students find the UK and Canada the most welcoming and safest and in the case of Australia, the situation is quite different. To cover up the Situation, Australia needs to work on more. 

Here is one more thing that I would like to share. Gavin Modie, adjunct Professor in Education at the University of Toronto and RMIT University, expressed his concerns about Australia’s student mobility. According to his statement, the border issue is not a matter of worrying, but the questionable issue with China might affect the international student flow in the long term. 

But, Anna Esaki-Smith, Co-founder of the Consultancy Education Rethink, doesn’t think in the same way. As per her belief, China will not focus on such a brief issue and put restrictions on the enrolment of students in Australia. But she has focused that the situations might decrease the demand of Chinese students considering relevant factors.

And that time, there is a chance that countries like India and Nigeria might take place to fill the gap of international students’ enrollment. Even the UK also agrees with the same statement and focuses on its global strategy in a new way. 

Rositsa Ilieva (Data Scientist) found out and highlighted that the demand source of international students could vary from country to country. She also added that “there is no substitute for the loss of talent in subjects reliant on high-caliber students from China, such as master’s-level students studying mathematical sciences and engineering. Growth in Chinese PhD students was one of the few sources of growth in global demand for UK research degrees”


In brief, there would be an immense impact on the overseas students flow. Specifically on the anglophone universities. If other countries keep opening more opportunities or increasing funding for international students, the student flow might change toward the non-anglophone universities because the pandemic has caused many financial damages. It might become one of the significant reasons students try to find less costly universities. Therefore, Universities like Germany Universities may become the centre of international students’ attraction. 



But don’t worry! Even in the most critical situations, we can assure you to get admission to the university that is just perfect for you.

Our education consultants are always here to guide you through the updates and complicated enrollment process. So, you can contact us anytime from anywhere to seek help for getting admission opportunities to UK universities or any of your desired universities. You can get in touch with us via our website, www.tclglobal.co.uk

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