Lucky country no more: costs push foreign students away

High cost of living and tuition fees in Australia has knocked the country off the top spot in university rankings it shared with Canada, as uncertainty around government migration policy contributed to the fall.

A report from IDP Education has revealed a significant shift in the perceptions international students carry towards different countries, particularly the US, Australia and Canada.

Australia and Canada have fallen from equal first to second and fourth respectively, with the cost of living and education major factors deterring international students from studying Down Under.

Australia's ranking as a first-choice study destination decreased by two per cent to 23 per cent compared to mid-2023 but student satisfaction levels have remained steady.

America ranked first with 24 per cent, followed by Australia (23 per cent), Britain (22 per cent), Canada (19 per cent), New Zealand (four per cent) and Ireland (two per cent).

Tuition fees and cost of living were the two most significant factors deterring international students from studying in Australia.

Education quality, employment prospects and value for money were the main driving factors for students determining where to study, IDP found.

Visa and policy disruptions impacting students had contributed to the shake up, IDP Education managing director Tennealle O'Shannessy said.

"As governments in some countries adopt measures which impact international students, demand is inevitably being affected and it is increasingly difficult for driven and bright students across the world to pursue their global goals," she said.

The Albanese government has cracked down on student visas in a bid to stop people using the system as a backdoor to the Australian jobs market.

The migration strategy also aims to cut new arrivals by targeting universities at a higher risk of letting in students to work rather than study.

It has led to concerns that students from certain countries, such as India, are having their visas denied as universities move to take themselves out of the government's crosshairs.

The research report was informed by 11,500 prospective, applied and current international students from 117 countries.