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How a changing world impacts student decision making: key findings from the latest Cambridge student destination survey

Cambridge Learners  Higher education  

Every year, we survey schools to find out what their Cambridge International AS & A Level students from the previous year chose to do on leaving school. Around 95% of Cambridge students go on to university. The survey results show key trends about where students choose to go to university and the subjects they study.

The most recent survey asked about students who took their Cambridge International AS & A Levels in 2022.

Signs of a post-pandemic return to normal

Previous destination surveys have reflected significant impacts on student decision-making caused by Covid-19 as the world locked-down, remote learning became normal, and international travel became impossible. The 2022 survey shows signs that the disruption caused by Covid-19 is largely over. Schools reported a return to pre-pandemic levels of international study – 47% of the Cambridge 2022 student cohort progressed to university outside their own country.

Nevertheless, some schools reported in the comments that some parents were still reluctant to have their children studying too far from home and were more likely to choose universities in the same global region.

The cost-of-living crisis impacts decision making

Although the pandemic may be over, its longer-term effects are still having an impact on student decision-making. Many schools report that families are dealing with financial issues caused by the pandemic and ongoing cost-of-living crisis. This has an impact on affordability and parents’ ability to finance overseas study. In particular, schools in Pakistan reported that high inflation was putting international study out of reach for many more students.

Growing interest in computer science due to AI

Whilst the data shows the top ten subjects chosen by students as unchanged from last year, there is some evidence of a small growth in the number of students studying computer science and Information and Computer technologies (ICT). This is also reflected in comments from schools who say that the increased focus and attention on Artificial Intelligence (AI) is resulting in a growing interest among students to study related subjects.

The top ten subject areas for 2022 were:

  1. Engineering
  2. Business & management
  3. Computer Science / ICT
  4. Accounting & finance
  5. Medicine
  6. Biological sciences
  7. Economics
  8. Mathematics
  9. Psychology
  10. Law

Key facts & figures from the 2022 Cambridge student destination survey

*As defined by the QS Top Universities rankings – https://www.topuniversities.com/
Figures are based on findings from 378 Cambridge Schools with a combined student cohort of approximately 20,000 students.

We send the student destination survey to Cambridge schools around April each year and are grateful for the feedback we receive. The results are important to the Recognitions team in Cambridge. It raises their awareness of new and emerging destinations, informs conversations with universities around the world, and helps Cambridge to support schools with relevant information about new higher education study destinations.

To find out more about all the universities that accept Cambridge qualifications worldwide and more, please visit the Cambridge Recognitions database

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