Cara Skikne
4 years ago

36% of students consider changing their academic plans due to COVID-19


Eindhoven, 29 May 2020 – Between 20 March and 10 April 2020, Studyportals conducted an online survey amongst 991 prospective international students in order to find out how they are perceiving the impact of COVID-19 in relation to their study plans and intentions to study abroad. To better capture the mood of international students and their concerns, Studyportals also engaged with its audience of prospective students on social media.

As the COVID-19 pandemic develops, students are increasingly considering changing their study plans. According to the survey results, overall, 36% of students are considering changing their study plans, this percentage has increased from 31% after week 1 to 40% after week 4.

Thijs van Vugt, Director of the Studyportals Analytics and Consulting Team mentioned:

‘Students have increasing and legitimate concerns about their study abroad plans and future opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, universities will have to respond to those concerns and the students’ needs in an agile and reassuring way. Moving application deadlines and semester start dates is of course important to reduce the impact in the coming months, but in the longer term – in an even more competitive market – they’ll need to reinvent how education is delivered and how recruitment is done.’

The students’ main concerns are that their travel plans may be restricted (85%), that their (parents’) savings may decrease (61%-68%) and 50% are worried about not being able to finish their exams in time.

Of the 36% that indicated to change their study plans, 50% say they will postpone their enrolment to next year, 42% are considering to enrol in an online programme, 21% are considering not going abroad, but enrolling in a domestic university and 11% not to study at all.

Student survey respondent, via social media:

[I] can’t go to [university]. My entire thesis plan, [graduation] trip and the rest of my semester schedule has been greatly affected by [the COVID-19 outbreak]’

On the other end, universities worldwide have been forced to shut down their campuses and reshape their institutions. The transition to online education, the delay of commencements at universities, cancelled exams and early holidays are only a few examples of actions that universities have taken so far.

While understanding the needs of their future students is, in general, a good practice, special attention should be given to students that are likely to start in 2020. According to prospective students planning to start in the upcoming six months, small, concrete and visible changes are very much welcomed: better hygiene around the campus (84%), and keeping communications via a 24/7 helpline (57%), online counselling and support (56%) and extension of the application period (55%).

In conclusion, the main finding is that students believe that COVID-19 will affect their studies, but they are also trying to carry on with their plans. Students are willing to commit to studying abroad despite the obstacles they might find, albeit a growing share of them is changing plans.

Anonymous student responded in the survey:

[The] only information I want [to know] is how to finish my last college course even if I have … to return home]’.


Read the ‘International Student Plans – Impact of COVID-19’ report

Contact: Olivia Rusu – Marketing Manager ( | +31 40 218 0255)

About Studyportals

Studyportals is the global study choice platform, enabling students to find and compare their education options across borders and make an informed choice. With over 240,000 on-campus and online courses from over 3,750 participating universities and over 36 million users in 2019, Studyportals is the world’s leading information source for study seekers. Since 2014, the organisation, headquartered in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, has expanded its services and is also covering universities in the Americas, Oceania, and Asia.

Studyportals aims to match students globally with the learning opportunities that fit them best. It helps institutions to optimise and grow their student population through a fully digital channel with transparent results.

Studyportals Analytics & Consulting Team

The Analytics and Consulting Team (ACT) at Studyportals advises and assists universities and other organisations in the higher education sector to realise their ambitions in the field of international marketing and international student recruitment. Our team of consultants cover everything from strategy, branding and marketing to customer relationship management, student recruitment, market insight, competitor analysis, google analytics, training as well as custom services. Our four areas of expertise are Analytics & Market Intelligence, Consulting & Training, Tracking & Recruitment Funnel Optimisation.

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