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The ‘most desirable’ country for international students? Survey says it’s New Zealand

study abroad destination
New Zealand has proven itself to be a top study abroad destination for many international students. Source: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP

A recent survey has found that New Zealand is now the most desirable study abroad destination for international students.

In May 2020, Navitas Insights asked close to 400 education agents from 63 countries how strongly they agreed with the following statement: “The way this country’s government has handled the coronavirus has made it a more attractive study destination.”

Results show that the New Zealand government’s handling of the pandemic has made it the most attractive study destination in the world today, ahead of Australia, Canada, Singapore, the UK and the US.

Canada is “only slightly behind in third place,” which may reflect the focus of the Navitas agent network which is currently more focussed on British Columbia and Manitoba, explained Jonathan Chew, Navitas Head of Strategic Insights and Analytics.

He proposed that agents with a focus on recruitment in Quebec and Ontario would offer a less favourable view given the more aggressive spread of COVID-19 in those provinces.

“In contrast to New Zealand, Australia and Canada’s leading position, less than a third of agents think that the UK government’s handling of the coronavirus has made it a more attractive study destination. The US has done very poorly on this measure,” he said.

The survey also asked respondents to what extent they agreed with the following statement: “Over the past two months, the reputation of this country as safe and welcoming for international students has improved.”

New Zealand performed better than Australia, Canada, Singapore, the UK and the US in this aspect as well.

Navitas agents help students all over the world gain admission at its global network of colleges and campuses across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK and USA, as well in Singapore, UAE, Sri Lanka, Germany and the Netherlands.

New Zealand takes the crown as top study abroad destination


New Zealand may be winning the hearts of international students today, but its borders remain mostly shut to all travellers, including those coming to study.

Previously, New Zealand’s Finance Minister Grant Robertson said international students are unlikely to return to New Zealand this year as the country will need time to establish the quarantine facilities needed to let students back in.

New Zealand education minister Chris Hipkins said a further announcement was expected to be made in the coming weeks.

“International students are important to New Zealand as we recover and rebuild from COVID-19 and the government will allow them to return when it’s safe to do so,” he said.

Despite that, the country is working towards allowing students to enter the country safely as soon as possible. It has offered support to students who have been facing financial and work difficulties, especially for those who are not returning home over the summer break over uncertainties that they will not be able to return if New Zealand’s borders remain closed. 

Schools in the country are also reportedly developing programmes and planning pastoral care services for international students who decide to stay in the country.

Some are considering summer school discounts for international students, such as paying the equivalent of domestic student fees for summer school papers.

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