Students keen to study abroad are looking to new destinations. An integral part of university experience for many students, the most sought-after countries by wanderlusting students eager to study in a far-off location have changed.
Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programmes have helped to open up the world to global interaction, travel and exchange. Geopolitical changes have also influenced the places that students identify as ideal study abroad destinations.
This article will explore these new developments. We will probe the changes gripping the study abroad experience. Ultimately, we seek to understand what students are looking for in the countries that they move to study abroad.
What’s going on in the study abroad landscape?
When choosing a destination to study abroad, students are considering some of the same questions as in the past. Safety, security, language and culture all feature in a student’s study abroad choices.
However, changes in technology, geopolitics, residency policies and educational priorities have also emerged as key indicators of a student’s proclivity to choose a study abroad destination.
UAE emerges as a top study abroad destination
According to India Today, the United Arab Emirates has emerged as a popular choice for students keen to study abroad. The country’s open and cosmopolitan cities, visa friendly policies and warm climate have all contributed to the country’s ascendance.
Students are unsurprisingly tantalised by the country’s top universities. Four UAE universities are ranked in the 2024 QS World University Rankings of the top 500 universities in the world.
Student visas can be sponsored by home universities. Additionally, if students have relatives in the UAE, relatives can also sponsor them for a visa.
Changes in reasons to study abroad
Students are seeking a study abroad programme for slightly different reasons than in the past. The cultural and interpersonal reasons for pursing overseas education remain; there are few experiences which help a person grow through challenge and enlightenment like studying abroad.
However, the world is rife with contradictions. Countries continue to become both more interconnected and more fragmented through conflict; technology both innovates interpersonal interaction and economic development while also challenging the jobs that were once considered commonplace.
Therefore, changes span educational priorities, geopolitical changes and residency policies. Technological innovations have also influenced students’ reasons to study abroad.
Political instability and change
The twenty first century has been kind to many countries, who have found themselves flourishing under the twin-tracked rise of globalisation and international community. However, other countries have fallen through the cracks.
Amid climate disaster, warfare rocking many regions of the world, and economic turmoil, some previously attractive study abroad locations are now unsafe for travellers.
Other countries have risen to the century’s challenges and positioned themselves well to withstand future challenges.
The UAE has also seen a massive economic boom, particularly around Dubai. Dubai’s economically-friendly policies, coupled with its open and friendly attitude to newcomers, has cemented its place as a world city.
Shifting educational priorities
Taking stock of the increasingly unpredictable global economy, graduates are opting for career-oriented study abroad programmes. The rising power of Artificial Intelligence, which threatens to replace many traditional career paths, has added an incentive to pursue skills-based programmes.
Programmes have sought to fill this gap, with the India Times reporting that ‘Business and Management, Computer Science, Technology and IT, and Health and Life Sciences’ have all risen to prominence.
Changes in residency policies
The UAE has made its policies easier for students to obtain a study visa. However, other countries have made their policies stricter.
The United Kingdom, for example, has implemented stricter policies on international study visas and has restricted dependants.
Rising demand for technological innovation
Interestingly, students are no longer happy with a one- or two-dimensional educational experience. Rather, they are seeking out fully immersive technological experiences.
Accordingly, there has been a rapid rise of blending hybrid learning with virtual reality and augmented reality in education.
Study abroad programmes have taken note, offering more fully immersive experiences in their educational offerings.
Trend forecast: what’s next for education abroad
It is impossible to predict the future, but after analysing these trends, a few things seem poised to continue in the long-term.
Rapid technological change shows no signs of slowing. Expect more fully immersive, virtual reality experiences in education abroad.
Technology, along with skills, will lead to the proliferation of tech-driven courses. Study abroad programmes will probably continue to boost their offerings in this direction.
Finally, given the multitude of elections happening this year, it is unlikely (though not impossible) that the world will be getting any less chaotic.
If you are keen to pursue an overseas education, gather as much information as you can about your host country, and expect the unexpected.