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Does the UK’s Vaccine Rollout Make It More Attractive to International Students?

By Chloe Lane

Updated July 6, 2021 Updated July 6, 2021

According to the QS International Student Survey, the UK’s vaccine rollout has made it a more attractive study destination for international students.  

Throughout the past year COVID-19 has impacted every aspect of student life, including studying abroad. With travel halted around the world, many international students have had to postpone or cancel studying abroad. 

The prospect of a speedy vaccine rollout was initially hoped to be a quick-fix solution to COVID-19 restrictions. Indeed, in some areas this seems to be the case. At the time of writing, 85 percent of the UK’s population have had at least one COVID-19 vaccination and hospitalisations have decreased significantly since the peak.  

In the UK, restrictions have eased significantly, shops, gyms, restaurants and pubs are open; you can stay in hotels and overnight at someone’s house. Wearing a mask is still compulsory indoors, but these rules are expected to be relaxed shortly. 

However, other countries haven’t been so lucky, with supply issues making it difficult for nations to distribute the vaccine to their own citizens. 

But how has the UK’s efficient vaccine rollout impacted international students’ decision to study abroad? Read on to find out.  

The effectiveness of the UK vaccine rollout 

The recently released QS International Student Survey found that the effectiveness and speed of the UK’s vaccine rollout has made it a more attractive and viable study destination for international students. 

Almost a fifth of students (17 percent) thought the UK was the country that best handled the vaccine rollout and around half said that the UK’s handling of the vaccine has made it a more attractive destination to study abroad. 

Additionally, the quick rollout of the vaccine has made some students feel more optimistic about studying abroad in the UK. In the student survey, 19 percent of recipients claimed the introduction of a COVID-19 vaccine made them want to bring forward their plans to study abroad. 

Scepticism of the vaccine 

However, not everyone is eager to get the vaccine. Although 68 percent of prospective international students claim they would take the vaccine if it was offered to them, seven percent said they are against the idea and a quarter were uncertain.  

When asked the reasons for being against taking the vaccine, cynicism and misinformation seemed to be major factors influencing these students’ decision. 

One student said: “I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of vaccine that was made in less than a year where other vaccines have taken way longer. I’m scared of the possible outcomes.” 

Another said: “I’m still young and we don’t know how the vaccine may affect us in the long term so I would prefer to not take the vaccine since I’d probably survive catching COVID-19.” 

Could universities make COVID vaccines compulsory? 

One question that is currently being discussed is whether universities could consider making COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for students who want to study in person.  

QS asked those students who said they would not take the vaccine whether they would get the COVID-19 vaccine if it was required by their university before travelling overseas to study.  

43 percent of these students claimed they would then receive the vaccine if it was compulsory. Only a small amount said they still wouldn't: 33 percent said they would still not get the vaccine and 25 percent were unsure.  

How are you feeling about studying abroad this year? Tweet us @TopUnis to let us know.  

This article was originally published in July 2021 .

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As Content Editor for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Chloe creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. Chloe has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Reading and grew up in Leicestershire, UK. 

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