Cara Skikne
4 years ago

83% of higher education institutions expect a decrease of international students in Fall 2020


Eindhoven, 29 April 2020 – Higher education institutions are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID-19 travel and social distancing measures, and many are looking for digital solutions to continue their operations.

In order to understand how institutions are reacting to the current challenges brought about by COVID-19, what actions they are taking, and how they believe HEIs will be affected, Studyportals ran a survey among its contacts in higher education. The survey ran from April 1st to April 17th and was answered by 170 higher education professionals overseeing student recruitment and international offices from HE institutions around the world, with a lion’s share in Europe.

Expectations from education professionals for enrolments in 2020 are not promising. In the survey, 83% of respondents expect a decrease or large decrease of international enrolments in the 2020 fall semester.

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

‘Despite many measures and actions, student mobility is highly dependent on government policies concerning travel and immigration. A decline of international students was previously unthinkable in a sector that was expected to grow more than 4% annually. Institutions will have a difficult time managing their budgets in the coming year which in a lot of cases have become dependent on revenue from international students’

The decrease of international enrolments is expected to continue beyond Fall 2020. Yet, for 2021 enrolments, the expectations from industry professionals are mixed: with 24% of respondents expecting an increase in international enrolments, and 34% a decrease.

The survey also showed that the resources for international recruitment are expected to shift. Respondents in higher education institutions expect less money to be available for travel and staff, and more budgets available for digital recruitment tools.

Thijs van Vugt: ‘The upside of the shift towards digital tools is that the return on investment is easier to measure compared to traditional methods. Institutions that are not yet familiar with digital recruitment better quickly catch-up and become experts in digital tools.’

Read COVID-19 survey 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 200,000 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.

Additional Studyportals COVID-19 resources

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