Passport Spotlight: Students in Mexico have big plans for international study

Students from Mexico are eager for in-person international education and optimistic about the student visa approval process, with Mexican women’s interest in studying abroad outpacing that of men.

Those are some of the key findings from continuing research on the preferences of international students. In total, we’ve polled more than 1,900 higher ed students, recently gathering data from Mexico and Peru, in addition to surveying students from Australia, Canada, China, India, Spain, the UK, and the US in 2021, to better understand their attitudes coming out of the pandemic. The study highlights students’ international education aspirations, the impact of the rising cost of education, and the need for simple, more flexible payment processes.

A total of 70% of the students we interviewed in Mexico are either studying internationally, or planning to, which is in line with the eight other countries we surveyed. Here’s what we learned from students in Mexico:

Mexico represents a large, growing market for students looking for international education

Between 2000 and 2019, the number of international degree-seeking Mexican students more than doubled, from 15,816 to 34,319 students, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. The US, Spain, Germany, Canada, France, UK and Australia were their favored destinations. Mexico’s expanding middle-class and a growing number of students enrolled in universities in the country have been big contributors to this trend.

However, compared with those other countries, international education is still more in the “planning” than “doing” stage. Mexico has the second highest highest percentage (vs. Peru at 73%) of students planning to study internationally (57%) compared to those already studying abroad (13%). This compares with 42% and 27% respectively for all students in the survey.

For those students from Mexico studying, or planning to study internationally, new cultural experiences and academic reputation of schools are the most important considerations.

Mexico is also one of only two countries (China being the other) surveyed where women are more inclined than men to study abroad. Women in Mexico are especially motivated by the opportunity for new cultural experiences.

When they do get abroad, Mexican students stated a strong preference (57%) for in-person learning environments, behind only the UK (62%) and Spain (60%). The preference for hybrid learning (33%) and virtual learning (10%) were both less than the survey group as a whole.

Like other countries the cost of education weighs heavily on Mexican students

Students from Mexico cite more sensitivity about their education payments than most other countries. 90% say they need help affording their education expenses, and 79% say the process of making tuition payments has been a significant stressor for them and their families.

Despite this sentiment, students in Mexico were among the least likely (47%) to consider delaying their education as a result of difficulties created by the pandemic. Only China was lower – at 45%. This compares with 57% overall.

At the same time, Mexican students were looking for ways to make the tuition payment processes easier and less stressful:

  • 91% believe a simplified payment experience, i.e., digital, local currencies, flexible payment methods, would improve their education experience
  • 80% say the option to pay in installments would make their education more affordable by extending the time frame in which they have to pay it.

Mexican students are very optimistic about the student visa process

Compared with students from other countries, students from Mexico expect the international student visa process to get easier as a result of the changing political environment.

  • 47% of Mexican students expect it to get easier, compared with 38% of all students.
  • Only 16% of Mexican students expect it to get more difficult compared to 21% of all students.

Want to learn more?

View the complete results of our survey in Mexico and the rest of the world.

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