I was speaking recently to an Acting Director of Studies for a well known British language school chain, who was telling me about the company’s slight reorientation to fit in with the academic demands of its students (more Ielts courses on offer; university preparation programmes, etc). Indeed, as the world continues to become a “global village” in the eyes of its inhabitants, the slow progression of the study abroad market towards longer-term and career-led education choices continues. A foreign country now offers so much more than just a language study holiday; it yields new possibilities for long-term study and career options.
This issue testifies not only to the appeal of higher education as a study abroad motivator (24 per cent of all Russian students, for example, study English as a prelude to further studies abroad pages 22-23), but it nods to the role of vocational training as a reason to study a language. MEGT, a vocational training provider in Australia, has recently announced its acquisition of Ability Education, which enables it to offer a “seamless service” of English language and vocational training to its clients, and, as Robert Parsonson, MEGT’s General Manager recently told me, allows MEGT to move into new, relatively untapped markets (page 6).
Meanwhile, we report on a new deal signed by TVET UK representing technical and vocational training providers in the UK which also highlights the nascent opportunities for vocational training organisations or colleges to move cross-border and deliver educational packages overseas (page 6). Six contracts have been awarded to UK colleges to provide vocational training in areas such as teacher training and engineering in Kazakhstan, training local college staff how to deliver particular courses.
What is it about a country that appeals to people to enrol in university there, move there or endorse its education system? Reputation is hard to pin down, but certainly the UK has a strong reputation for quality, as a reader in Oman acknowledges (page 9). The director of TVET UK said that Kazakhstan “aspired to the British model of creating a workforce”.
A recent survey undertaken by IDP casts more light on issues of reputation its survey of 6,000 students revealed that, in fact, 58 per cent of those polled believe the USA to be the top destination for a quality education (page 6). These results might disappoint its competitors, notably Australia, which has strong and coordinated marketing campaigns, the latest of which kicks off this year. Yet TVET UK’s deal offers a glimpse of what coordinated action can yield.