INTO’s Global Student Survey | How has the pandemic impacted the career aspirations of Gen Zs

Gen Z

More than half of Gen Z considering a different career path in the wake of COVID-19

Global survey by INTO shows young people in India are the most upbeat despite the pandemic as they explore new options, and international education tops their list of priorities

India, August 31, 2021: The COVID-19 pandemic has led more than half of Gen Z to consider a different career path, a global survey by INTO University Partnerships reveals.

The research conducted by the leading international education organisation shows that since the onset of the pandemic, 55% of under 25s across the world have actively contemplated new career options. In India, 57% have considered a different career.

The survey shows 47% of Gen Z students in India are looking for a career that offers a better work-life balance. Also, almost half (45%) of Gen Z hope to one day become entrepreneurs and launch their own businesses.  

Over 1,200 Gen Z students from 93 countries took part in the INTO survey, conducted in August 2021. This included China, India, Nigeria, Kenya, Japan, Australia and Brazil among others.

Gen Z make up 30% of the global population. The survey shows a strong trend among young people wanting to start their own business as a preferred career option. The majority also consider an international degree as the gateway to realising their career dreams in the new normal.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has radically altered the attitudes and career aspirations of Gen Z. This change will come to define the world of higher education and work. It is absolutely critical that governments, universities and the industry are primed for this shift among young people to support a whole generation that is eager to learn and work differently,” said Olivia Streatfeild, CEO of INTO University Partnerships. 

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The survey also shows that the catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on lives and economies has failed to dent the hopes and aspirations of Gen Z as they are more optimistic than ever about their future.

India leads the way in this regard, with an overwhelming  94%of Gen Z students saying they have a positive outlook on their future after a year and a half disrupted by the pandemic.


“Young people are faced with the toughest challenge in a generation to forging their future as the world strives to emerge from the shadows of the pandemic. It is therefore heartening to see that Gen Z are unfazed by the catastrophe and determined to achieve their dreams. Excellent international education opportunities and innovative programmes that boost students’ career prospects will be pivotal in this recovery,” said Ms Streatfeild.

The survey shows studying abroad to be inextricably linked to career goals in the minds of Gen-Z students. Acquiring knowledge and skills needed to succeed in life came out as the top reason to pursue an international degree, with 90% of students surveyed globally agreeing that this motivated them to study abroad. In India, 86% believe an international degree offers them the best chance to realise their dreams.

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“INTO’s survey shows Gen Z students in India see international education as a major route to enhancing their career prospects and despite the impact of COVID-19 their interest in studying abroad has only risen further. It is clearly evidenced by a record number of over 55,000 student and exchange visitor visas issued by the US this year. Although UK figures haven’t been released yet, the market trends suggest a strong interest among Gen Z for UK academic institutions,” said Diwakar Chandiok, INTO’s Recruitment Director for South Asia.

The majority of India Gen Z students – 84% – also agree that training for a specific career is an important reason to go overseas for higher education.

“The current generation of students are more outcome-oriented than their predecessors. They demand concrete returns on their investment in an international degree. It is on those of us in the international education sector to facilitate their success and work to ensure they get what they deserve from their studies abroad,” said Ms Streatfeild

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Highlights from the survey: 

  • 55% of Gen Z students worldwide report that their career aspirations have changed in light of the pandemic; 29% indicate their aspirations have changed a little, and 26% indicate they have changed a lot.
  • 91% of Gen Z students have a positive outlook on the future despite the COVID-19 setback; 43% report they feel optimistic and excited about their future, and 48% indicate they feel hopeful but sometimes anxious.
  • Indian Gen Z students are the most optimistic in the wake of COVID-19 – 94 % indicate they have a positive outlook on about their future. 
  • 88% of Gen Z students have the goal of making it to the top of their profession one day. 
  • 90% of Gen Z students believe an international degree will help them get the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in life. 
  • 84% of Gen Z students seek an international degree to train for a specific career.
  • 83% of Gen Z students agree that overseas study gives people a competitive advantage towards a career.
  • 64% of Gen Z students from India want to work overseas one day.

About INTO University Partnerships:

INTO University Partnerships is an independent organisation committed to expanding higher education and career opportunities for students across the globe. We believe in the power of education to transform lives. We believe that movement of students leads to movement of ideas, which in turn creates better and more successful societies. We connect students seeking quality international education with leading universities worldwide aspiring to widen their global reach and impact. Achieving the best learning experience and career prospects for students is central to our mission. 

Since our inception in 2005, INTO has pioneered innovation in international education and created groundbreaking partnerships with 30 universities in the US and UK. We have so far helped more than 130,000 students from 190 countries realise their dream of achieving a degree from a world-class university. We also equip students to get a head start in building a career. We do this by offering exceptional academic and employability skills programmes.

We are active in over 120 countries and provide unrivalled personalised service to international students with more than 1,500 experienced staff worldwide and a global network of 2,000 recruitment partners.

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