70% of international students say vaccinations should be compulsory before study abroad

Latest QS data looks at factors – including vaccinations and Covid variants – influencing international students as they prepare to return to studying overseas

New research has revealed how international students feel about a variety of factors affecting their decision to study abroad, including vaccinations and new variants of Covid-19.

The report, from higher education analytics agency Quacquarelli Symonds, has found that of the 3,853 prospective international students it surveyed in July 2021:

  • Most (70%) felt that vaccinations should be a requirement before students travel to the country of their chosen institution.
  • However, they were less keen on the thought of having to provide official proof of their vaccinations, with just 57% saying they believed vaccine passports should be required before you can travel to the country of your chosen institution and 40% saying they were more likely to choose a study destination that didn’t require a vaccine passport.
  • The UK came second, after the USA, in a list of countries international students felt had best handled the distribution of the vaccine to their population – 34% said the UK had become “much more attractive” as a place to study because of the way it had handled the distribution of the vaccine.
  • 58% said the way that different governments managed the coronavirus in their own country had made them reconsider where to study overseas.
  • Over three quarters (79%) of prospective international students are concerned about the potential for new variants of Covid-19 to impact their future study plans
  • The majority (84%) of prospective international students also feel that governments should be doing more to tackle Covid-19 variants


The data comes from the QS August Covid-19 report, which investigates the factors that are either facilitating or hampering the efforts of international students as they return to studying overseas. It suggests that countries seen to be successfully managing the pandemic and potential variants may see their rate of international students recover quicker than those countries where the virus continues to spread.

“These latest findings show that its vital that the sector and the UK government continue to work together to ensure that international students are well informed about the government’s efforts to tackle and contain Covid-19 variants, so that prospective international students continue to feel reassured about the UK as an international study destination of choice,” said QS director of marketing Paul Raybould.

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