Fewer Foreign Students in Australia or Britain Wish They Were in the U.S.

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Fri Oct 13 12:38:20 UTC 2006

Friday, October 13, 2006

Fewer Foreign Students in Australia or Britain Wish They Were in the U.S.,
Study Finds

Perth, Australia

The United States has slipped from its once-seemingly unassailable
position as the country of first educational choice among fee-paying
foreign students at colleges in both Australia and Britain, according to
research presented at a major conference here this week. The latest
findings follow up on preliminary data, released last year, indicating
that foreign students based in Australia tended to regard that nation as
their best personal option for higher-education studies among the three
countries. The study, which was conducted by the marketing-consulting firm
JWT Education, drew on focus-group interviews conducted last year with 550
undergraduates from 10 of the Asian countries that are leading markets for
higher education in the English-speaking world.

JWT Education, which has been surveying shifting attitudes among foreign
students since 1997, presented the new findings on Wednesday at the joint
conference of IDP Education Australia and the International Education
Association of Australia, one of the world's leading annual meetings on
international education. This year's conference drew 1,000 delegates from
around the world. The preliminary data, released at the organizations'
2005 conference, had found that 81 percent of foreign students based in
Australia reported that the country was their first choice over Britain or
the United States. Just one in 10 said the United States would have been
their first choice. In a previous survey, conducted in 2000, JWT found
that fewer than half of international students in Australia regarded the
country as a destination preferred over Britain or the United States.

According to the new findings, a similar trend now appears to be
established among foreign undergraduate students in Britain, too, with
just 15 percent of the study's participants saying that an educational
experience in the United States remained their ultimate pick. By a
wafer-thin margin, those students also rated the quality of British higher
education above that of American institutions of higher learning.
According to Allison Doorbar, the JWT partner who oversaw the research,
the fading pro-American sentiment has been most keenly felt among Muslim
students, or students from countries with substantial Muslim populations
-- both categories in which students have experienced first-hand the
effects of tightened U.S. visa requirements in the wake of the terrorist
attacks of 2001.

In an interview, Ms. Doorbar said the shift could be attributed to both
the new American policies "and the perceptions of those strategies" across
many parts of Asia. "We heard people saying this time and time again:
'Well, if it's that difficult to get into the U.S., then they can't be
very welcoming once you arrive, right?'" Other figures released at the
conference showed that Australia's export earnings from foreign students
had increased by more than $7.5-billion (U.S.) in the past year alone. The
conference has a tradition of unveiling upbeat research showing the
country striding confidently ahead of its international competitors.
However, the same research showed that both Britain and America remained
well ahead of Australia in terms of their perceived academic caliber.


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