British Council analyses ELT market in India and China
Research conducted by the British Council (BC) shows English language learning and teaching is developing rapidly in India and China. As two of the world’s fastest growing economies, both countries are purported to have a learning population of nearly 550 million people and the British Council has called on the UK industry to up its game if it is to harness this burgeoning market.
“The demand for English language learning is huge and continues to grow, and with an estimated 550 million learners in India and China alone, meeting this demand is beyond the means of any one organisation,” said Martin Davidson, Chief Executive of the British Council at the event held earlier this year in London. “It will require a concerted response from the UK if we are to remain a partner of choice with governments overseas,” he added.
Industry peers gathered at the BC headquarters in London to listen to talks given by several guest speakers including Maya Menon, Director of the Teacher Foundation in Bangalore, India and Professor Gu Yueguo, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Beijing Foreign Studies University in China. Both figures addressed pressing issues such as who the likely target markets were and what type of English language provision was needed.
“India is complex and is grappling with many challenges,” stated Menon. “But today it is also a land with tremendous opportunities. Providing access to English language is important in creating a level playing field and erasing the years of disparities that many Indians have faced in educational opportunities,” she added. She noted that one of the key challenges ELT providers faced was improving the language proficiency of the four million or so English language teachers currently operating in India. And she mooted that teaming up with reputable Indian institutions could well be the way forward for Western companies keen to leverage opportunity. “There are many opportunities for UK providers in India, especially if they partner with the government or with Indian organisations,” Menon stated.
Meanwhile, Professor Yueguo highlighted a shortage in the number of qualified teachers in China and that this has had certainly impacted on the industry. “English continues to provide a window to the outside world for Chinese language learners from all walks of life,” he commented. “The shortage of qualified teachers of English in China has created a bottleneck of demand, but this provides the biggest opportunity for UK providers.”
Maltese schools facing difficult year
According to a recent industry survey conducted by the Federation of English Language Teaching Organisations in Malta (Feltom), some Maltese schools face closure should student numbers fail to pick up.
Almost 57 per cent of the 23 English language schools that took part in the poll reported a drop in student numbers in the first quarter of 2009, with just 21.7 per cent reporting an increase in student enrolments.
“Schools faced with a substantial fall in student numbers will find it difficult to operate in the long-term,” said Executive Officer of Feltom, Isabelle Pace Warrington. “Should the crisis escalate or be prolonged then the possibility of school closures becomes very real,” she added. Particular markets which have suffered this year include South Korea, Germany, Russia, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Austria, Japan and Poland with the global recession thought to be the cause as well as the competitive value of the UK pound.
However, 55 per cent of survey respondents also expressed concern over visa issuance abroad. Despite the fact that students can now apply for visas at consulate offices in Spain, Austria and Italy, the system is reported to be flawed. “It has frequently been reported that applicants are turned away because either staff are too busy or unaware of the existence of representation agreements,” said Pace Warrington.
Meanwhile, the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), which has launched several campaigns to increase the country’s profile and that of the ELT industry (see LTM, July 2009, page 26) warned that schools should consolidate their efforts by targeting mainstay markets as opposed to new regions. “In the current economic scenerio, it is imperative for us to concentrate on core ELT markets rather than spend our resources too thinly in several potential new markets outside Europe, where the marketing learning curve is long and requires a relatively longer period of time before becoming effective,” said MTA Communications Director, Kevin Drake.
New “Study in Australia 2010” strategy introduced by government
The Australian Education International (AEI) the eductional arm of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) has launched a new strategy that looks to counter any effects of the global recession. It is investing AUS$3.5 million (US$2.8 million) in its Study in Australia 2010 strategy to promote its international education and training sector.
Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, said the scheme, launched earlier this year, looks to address four key areas: showcasing the nation’s education and training excellence; positioning Australia in the global market; enhancing the student experience; and supporting the Australian international education sector as a whole.
A spokesperson from the DEEWR said that by working with international education providers they would “identify and deliver the measures needed for Australia to remain globally competitive” and that the strat-egy had been welcomed as “an additional means of support in an increasingly competitive mar-ketplace”. New projects tailored to the needs of certain countries and regions would also be implemented this year said the source.
However, following a recent spate of violence against foreign students in Australia (see ETM, page 19), Gillard underlined that the government plans to pay particular attention to student welfare this year. “I am aware of and am concerned about the reports in the media of international students’ safety being compromised and of their having unsatisfactory experiences while in Australia,” she stated, announcing that the government planned to invite international industry representatives to take part in a round-table discussion that tackled issues such as accommodation, welfare and safety.
Dublin City Council in bid to attract more students
Dublin City Council is working with Irish tertiary providers in a bid to attract more international students to the country. It is hoped new marketing initiatives, which include rebranding international scholarships, will attract a fresh influx.
Generating an estimated e500 million (US$702 million) for the Irish economy per year, non-EU international students are, according to Lord Mayor, Eibhlin Byrne, an asset for the country. “It’s a growing and important market and Dublin needs to get its share,” she said, claiming that Melbourne, Australia is a “similar-sized city to Dublin” [in fact much larger]. “Melbourne generates over e2 billion (US$ 2.8 billion) annually,” she said. “It’s all about branding. It makes sense for the city to promote Dublin and support the marketing initiatives of the third-level colleges.”
The Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, the National College of Ireland, UC Dublin, National University of Ireland Maynooth and the Institutes of Technology in Blanchardstown and Tallaght have all been granted permission to rebrand their scholarships “The Lord Mayor of Dublin International Scholarships” and recipients will be presented with a City Scroll at Mansion House by the Lord Mayor.
Dr Brian Norton, President at DIT, said, “Ireland needs to change its attitude and approach to welcome international students. International education is a means of building up networks and contacts with potential business and public service leaders in other countries.”
Nafsa attracts over 7,000 in LA
Despite many Nafsa veterans commenting that the event was quieter than before, the annual Nafsa Conference in Los Angeles in May still drew over 7,500 delegates, making it the largest event of its kind focused on international education opportunities around the world.
Many institutions were exhibiting in the expo hall under country banners, such as Education UK, Study in Australia and EduEspaña from Spain, while a huge swathe of Nafsa members representing various US institutions dominated the delegate list. Concurrent seminars ran alongside the international education expo, with sessions focused on many issues relating to international study within the higher education sector, predominantly.
Keynote speaker was Professor Muhammad Yunnus, Founder of the Grameen Bank and winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, along with the bank, for his visionary micro-banking model.
Delegates seemed happy with the range of commercial and educational opportunities presented at the event. Res Helfer of AAIEP commented, “I expected it to be slower but it’s been busy, with lots of agents stopping by [the AAIEP booth]. People’s attitudes have changed; politics has changed. But, people in Asia are worried about swine flu.”
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