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Student Visa Approval Rates in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom

As vaccinations against COVID-19 are well underway in many countries, especially in top destinations for international education, the border restrictions necessitated by the pandemic have indeed affected the student visa applications of many foreign students.


While top countries for international education are constantly fine-tuning their travel policies to give way to inbound global learners, there is cautious optimism that post-pandemic numbers may get closer to their pre-pandemic status. In this article, we will show you the student visa approval rates in top destinations. This includes data from Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada.


Key Takeaways:

  • For 2020-2021, Australia’s student visa success rate increased in key markets including India (80.7%) and Nepal (80.9%) amid the pandemic.
  • A May 2019 report produced by the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) showed that Canada had an over-60% approval rate for student visas.
  • In a February 2020 report in the UK, 86% of those vying for a Tier 4 UK visa applied for study at HEI.


Although Australia continues to be generally strict in its border closure six months into 2021, it has opened its borders to selected countries with low cases of COVID-19, such as New Zealand and Singapore.


Interestingly, amid the pandemic-induced threats in the plans of most global learners, Australia has experienced an increase in the 2020/2021 visa grant rates compared to 2019/2020 data. This shift is experienced in two countries included in its top source markets such as India (80.7% from 76.8%) and Nepal (80.9% from 76.2%).


Meanwhile, its top source market, China, has experienced a minimal increase in approval rate which is 98.6% in 2020/2021 from 98.1% in 2019/2020. 


Latin American countries such as Brazil (97.9% from 98.1%) and Colombia (84.6% from 94.1%), which are also among Australia’s key markets for global learners, experienced lower approval rates.


Similarly, Canada is slowly reopening its borders to inbound international students. As long as they have received the full dose of accepted vaccines, international students may be exempted from stricter quarantine and testing requirements.


In a May 2019 report, the IRCC revealed that the student visa grant rate in the country was over 60%, with 39% refusal rate.


Canada is among the most desired countries for foreign students due to its inclusive atmosphere and world-renown education in above-average universities and colleges. Apart from having smooth student visa processes, the Canadian government also implements work programs for international students to prepare for rewarding global careers.

United Kingdom

Well-established research infrastructure and globally recognized universities are just a few of the advantages of studying in the United Kingdom. While it considers international education as among its soft powers, it also offers scholarships and financial support even to foreign students. 


In a February 2020 report published on www.gov.uk, there were 285,508 Tier 4 visas granted (including dependents) in 2019. This was a 19% increase compared to the figures in 2018. Additionally, the report revealed that 86% of those vying for a Tier 4 UK visa applied for study at HEIs. 


With 85% of its adult population vaccinated as of this writing, the UK may still see these study visa statistics change, even getting back to normal. It has also opened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from most countries while varying quarantine periods are still in place.


The current policies stated here about the easing of travel borders may still change and remain unpredictable as is the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything depends on the appearance of new variants of the novel coronavirus and the pace of the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in some parts of the world.


Nevertheless, it is inspiring to witness how global learners, HEIs, student recruitment agents, and the government work together. Time and again, this collaboration does great work at ensuring that the multifaceted benefits of international education persist despite the challenging times. (SUNEETHA QURESHI)


#PartnerForLife #InternationalEducation #InternationalStudents #MSM

MSM VP Global Suneetha Qureshi

MSM President-Global Marketing Office (GMO)

Suneetha has more than 10 years of experience in the international education sector. As president of MSM GMO, she fortifies its business development outreach globally, particularly in the face of MSM’s foray in edtech-based recruitment via MSM Unify. She preserves the premium, value-adding services provided to each GMO partner institution, including dedicated teams on the ground, agent management, lead generation and inquiry management, application pre-screening, and student and parent support through pioneering pre-departure briefing sessions.


She has an impeccable track record of successfully launching the representative offices in Asia and Africa of many North American and European higher education institutions. Her key strengths include hiring, training, and developing teams as evidenced by the successful results of the dedicated in-country college and university client teams.

Suneetha also has taken the lead in developing several initiatives at MSM, including building robust standard operating procedures, the Rise ‘n Shine team engagement platform, and the organization’s data analytics and audit segments.


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