US is now the most preferred study destination for international students

A recent survey has revealed that the United States has become the most preferred study destination for international students. Policy updates in other countries like Australia, Canada, and the UK are driving this trend as students are highly aware of how these may impact their study experience and post-graduate career prospects.

US emerges as the top choice

In the Emerging Futures research series by IDP, the United States has become the top study-abroad destination, chosen by 24% of surveyed students. Australia follows closely with 23% of the votes, the UK with 22% and Canada with 19%. This data reflects responses from over 11,500 prospective, applied and current students across 117 countries.

Influences on student decisions

The survey found that international students are highly attuned to destination countries’ immigration policies. A significant 54% of prospective and applied students are aware of how policy changes may affect their decisions and 41% are reconsidering their plans as a result. The importance of government policy updates is underscored, with 39% of students stating that these updates have a “very high” or “high” impact on their study abroad choices.

Stability boosts US appeal

Despite historically stringent immigration rules and a high number of student visa rejections in 2023, the US has gained favour by maintaining consistent policies. Leaders have emphasised the need for clarity in international student policies, stating that governments need to maintain clear and supportive regulations to retain their competitive edge.

Career prospects drive choices

Career prospects significantly influence international students’ destination choices. The survey shows that 43% of students choose programs based on earning potential after graduation, with this figure exceeding 50% in key markets like China and the Philippines. The demand for jobs in destination countries is particularly influential for students from Bangladesh and the Philippines. The U.S. is also known for its robust job market and support for post-graduate work opportunities. They also offer numerous opportunities for international students to gain work experience during and after their studies. Programs such as Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows graduates to work in the US for up to three years, providing advantage for those looking to grow their career professionally. 


The IDP survey highlights how international students are highly responsive to immigration policies and prioritise destinations that offer stability, quality education and favourable career prospects. The US’s rise to the top spot illustrates the importance of maintaining supportive and clear policies in attracting global talent. As international education remains a competitive field, countries must adapt to these needs to continue drawing enrollees from around the globe.

To know more about the opportunities available for international students and updates about education in the USA, check out our blog or reach out to our North American team at [email protected].   

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