More and more students are being given the opportunity to travel overseas for education purposes as the value of such an experience is becoming widely recognised by government bodies, as well as students themselves. And while the effects of the terrorist attacks in the USA last year have provided challenges to the whole education industry worldwide, they have also served to generate debate regarding the role of international students in today's world.
Our Destination Analysis feature on the USA shows that many institutions in the USA are maintaining a cautious optimism regarding international student enrolments in the future (page 5). Overall, students enrolled on long-term study programmes were largely unaffected by the terrorist attacks and continued in their course of study, while the short-term student market proved to be more volatile. The effects of changes to international student visas being brought in this year have, however, yet to be monitored, but government recognition of the value of educational exchange is a positive sign for the industry. Schools in the country are hoping that increased regulation will not threaten the USA's status as the world's the most popular study destination (page 2).
In Canada, educational institutions have also reported mixed consequences of the terrorist attacks. In a survey by the CEC Network, members reported that while some students saw Canada as the safer alternative to the USA, others viewed the country's proximity to the USA as reason for concern. An interesting development reported by some schools was that they experienced increased interest from overseas consultants since the attacks (page 3).
Unlike language schools worldwide, where the use of overseas consultants is often seen as an essential marketing tool, education institutions in certain destinations remain reluctant to take advantage of the benefits consultants can bring. Events such as the September 11 attacks and the threat of a world recession may help to encourage members of the industry to look to new ways of working proactively to build student numbers. The growing variety and wider reach of education fairs, such as the first Education India fair held in March this year, means that opportunities for schools, agents and students are now greater than ever (page 3).
Often the high financial cost of studying abroad can deter potential education travellers and our analysis of the outgoing student market trends in Korea shows a distinct correlation between the country's growing economy and increasing overseas enrolments (page 6). However, illustrating the importance of an overseas education experience for many, one university who contributed to this issue's feature on MBA courses in the UK pointed out that the threat of an economic recession had no effect on the number of students taking their MBA courses (page 9). Indeed, the increased competition for jobs generated by a recessive economy can potentially drive more students to seek qualifications overseas in order to gain a competitive edge over their fellow job seekers.
It is becoming obvious that the role of education travel is an important one for an increasing number of students worldwide, and although the market is affected by external world events, it can be resistant to them too. Overseas consultants and education institutions need to find ways of effectively working together to ensure that students are able to make the most of the increasing educational opportunities on offer worldwide.