University Search during a Pandemic: The Virtual Revolution

Undeterred prospective undergraduate and postgraduate students discover new ways to connect with higher education institutions and finalize their study plans.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, studying abroad remains an attractive proposition to prospective students, with over 90% of those originally intending to pursue a higher education qualification – at either undergraduate or postgraduate level – still planning to apply for international study opportunities.

An ongoing global survey – conducted by QS Quacquarelli Symonds, higher education think-tank and compilers of the QS World University Rankings – is capturing the student response to the pandemic, including its effect on their study plans. In total, the survey has captured responses from 19,464 prospective international students.

The current cohort of responses nation indicates that:

  • 46% of those surveyed intend to defer their entry by one year as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
  • 9% of those surveyed now intend to study in a different nation as a result of the global pandemic.
  • Only 7% of those originally intending to do so no longer intend to study overseas.

Nunzio Quacquarelli, CEO at QS Quacquarelli Symonds, said: “Our dataset shows that any potential drop in international student enrolments likely to be temporary: only one in fourteen survey respondents have told QS that they do not intend to pursue international study at all. QS continues to provide prospective students around the world the opportunity to connect with leading higher education institutions and receive the information required to make an informed decision about their study plans at this complex time. Most universities are responding to this unprecedented challenge by being flexible around applications deadlines, by adapting some of the entry requirements, especially around language tests and other tests, such as GMAT or GRE, and by introducing online learning until in-person teaching will resume.”

Quacquarelli continued: “Last year we organized 348 events across five continents, allowing over 225,000 prospective students to meet face-to-face the admissions directors of hundreds of international universities and business schools. This Spring, we have rapidly transformed our events into engaging and interactive digital experiences, connecting candidates with institutions as successfully as ever. By participating in our Virtual World MBA Tour, Connect MBA, QS World Grad School Tour and Connect Masters events, candidates are accessing essential information to help them navigate these uncertain times”.

QS recently ran digital events for MBA candidates based in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, Greece, and Russia as well as events dedicated to master’s and PhD candidates in Greece and Russia, via a digital platform, which proved very popular.

The representative of Goethe Business School commented “All in all the virtual event was even better than the face to face meetings” while the representative from EDECH said”

Very good experience. Hoping the digital events will be proposed again in the future”

James Mellman, a prospective student, who recently attended a QS virtual fair, said:
”I think the virtual format was awesome, and I recommend it over the face-to-face.”

Key features of the upcoming QS Virtual Events in India from 26th May to 4th June

  • Connect MBA and Connect Masters events: candidates can book individual or small groups 25’ video calls with the attending schools or universities of their preference, provided their profiles meets the pre-requisites set by the institution. 
  • QS World MBA Tour and QS World Grad School Tour: candidates must secure their place by registering online. They will receive a link to join the virtual platform which offers the opportunity to:
  • Visit the virtual exhibition area and interact with the admissions officers from London Business School, Columbia University, Nanyang Business School, HEC-Paris, York-Schulich, IE Business School, Indian School of Business, Johns Hopkins University, University at Buffalo, SUNY, University College Dublin & many more via a live chat, download prospectuses, access video content relating the specific institution and connect with it via social media.
  • Visit the QS booth and access useful information and content to help their decision-making process, including the matching tool, which allows candidates to create a personalized shortlist courses based on a range of useful criteria.
  • Apply to exclusive QS Scholarships. The fund, worth $7 million, includes partial scholarships offered by QS and by partner universities and business schools.
  • View exclusive webinars featuring admissions advice from rectors and admissions officers, including specific insights on how to plan the next study step amidst the current disruption.

You can apply for Virtual events in different cities by clicking on the city names under either MBA or Masters:  

MBA: Mumbai – 26th May, New Delhi – 30th May, Hyderabad – 1st June, Bangalore – 3rd June

Masters: Mumbai – 27th May, New Delhi – 31st May, Hyderabad – 2nd June,
                 Bangalore– 4th June

For more information about QS’s research and events please contact:

Simona Bizzozero
Director of Communications
QS Quacquarelli Symonds
+44 7880 620 856

QS Quacquarelli Symonds

QS Quacquarelli Symonds is the world’s leading provider of services, analytics, and insight to the global higher education sector, whose mission is to enable motivated people anywhere in the world to fulfill their potential through educational achievement, international mobility, and career development.

The QS World University Rankings portfolio, inaugurated in 2004, has grown to become the world’s most popular source of comparative data about university performance. Their flagship website, – the home of their rankings – was viewed 149 million times in 2019, and over 94,000 media clippings pertaining to, or mentioning, QS were published by media outlets across the world in 2019.

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