More international students attracted to study in the UK, research suggests

by Ray Clancy on March 26, 2012

Rising number of overseas students choosing to study in Britain

The number of international students choosing to study in Britain is set to rise faster than overseas student enrolments anywhere else in the world outside of Australia, a new British Council study shows.

But this growth is set against an expected global slowdown in the number of internationally mobile students, and will be significantly smaller than the increasing intake of overseas students experienced by UK higher education over the past ten years.

British universities and colleges will therefore need to focus as much on new opportunities to educate more international students in their home countries and on international research collaboration as on attracting students to the UK, if they are to realise their full global potential.

‘The shape of things to come: Higher education global trends and emerging opportunities to 2020’, commissioned by the British Council, shows that within the next decade nearly 30,000 more international students can be expected to join university courses in the UK, more than its greatest higher education competitor the United States, as Britain benefits from its links with rapidly growing countries, particularly India.

But competition for increasing numbers of globally mobile students will remain strong, especially from the US and Canada, with higher university tuition fees and tougher visa rules in the UK potentially impacting negatively on the international popularity of our universities and colleges, warns a report on the study’s findings, to be published next month.

Education is currently the fifth largest service export sector in the UK economy, representing 8.4% of total service exports. Analysis of demographic, economic, and educational drivers and trends in over 50 key countries suggests that the UK’s economy could reap the rewards of a decade of opportunity through global higher education and research as long as its universities, colleges and businesses make the right moves in emerging markets, with support from Government.

Dr Jo Beall, the British Council’s director of education and society, said the study showed that the UK was in a strong position not only to further strengthen its place as one of the world’s leading study destinations, but also to forge new international research partnerships and collaborative ventures with universities and colleges overseas.

‘The next ten years are critical. The UK has a decade of opportunity ahead of it, if its universities, colleges, business leaders and policy makers are ready to take decisive steps to engage with the global higher education market. In an increasingly connected and interdependent world, a willingness and ability to collaborate internationally and to respond to changing trends are vital. We cannot afford to miss out on the prospects highlighted in this report,’ she said.

Much of the predicted growth in international student numbers for the UK will be fuelled by rising demand for university places from India, which is forecast to overtake China as the world’s fastest growing source of globally mobile students. It will also be driven by the UK’s high and expected growing share of other rapidly expanding markets including Nigeria, Malaysia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The study forecasts that only Australia will lead the UK on international student recruitment, taking in over 50,000 more overseas students by 2020. This is largely due to its proximity to expanding markets and it not being exposed to falling demand from students in mainland Europe which is already affecting the UK through its rise in university tuition fees.

As a growing number of university researchers seek international partners to work on solutions to global problems, the best opportunities for research collaboration for the UK are expected to be in the US, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Australia.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: