Blog feature image of UniQuest COVID-19 student recruitment insights April update

April behavioural data shows resurgence in international student demand

A year-on-year analysis of nearly 24,000 pre-application student enquiries

It’s no surprise that coronavirus is disrupting the higher education sector, but to what extent is the pandemic influencing student behaviour throughout the recruitment funnel?

In this period of uncertainty, it’s important that universities gain as much clarity as possible on how the global crisis is impacting their enrolment pipelines. This means not only monitoring what students are saying, but how they’re actually behaving.

Across our work with our partner universities, we track student behaviour data in real-time to inform student engagement strategies and support our partners in developing accurate enrolment forecasts. Naturally, COVID-19 has been top-of-mind for our partners and we’ve been analysing student behavioural data for monthly trends to determine how the pandemic is changing student decision-making.

Through a year-on-year analysis of nearly 24,000 pre-application international student enquiries to our UK university partners, we’ve seen a strong comeback in student demand growth across April after four months of slumping growth.

Comparing international student pre-application enquiry data from October 2018 to April 2019 against the same period of the current recruitment cycle, we’ve seen the rate of demand growth among international students more than triple between March and April this year.

Graph - monthly international student demand growth trends

Not only was growth much steeper in April but it was also more balanced compared to March, which had been largely buoyed by India, as we’ve seen demand bounce back from the US, Pakistan, the UK and Nigeria.

Graph - monthly international student demand trends by market


India remains the top driver of international student demand growth and when we remove it from the analysis, we continue to see a less positive picture of overall international student demand. However, demand in India started to slow under lockdown in April as demand in other key markets recovered. This is something that we continue to monitor very closely to ensure we understand and can, as closely as possible, predict student enrolments for the 2020 and 2021 intakes.

Graph -monthly international student demand trends excluding India


As we continuously track student demand and offer decision trends for our university partners, we will continue to publish monthly trends here on the blog. In the meantime, follow us on LinkedIn for weekly insights to help you engage your prospective students in these uncertain times.