All eyes on Asia
Volunteering in Africa is rising in popularity according to providers in the field (page 17) as more and more people look to “give something back” instead of just travelling overseas. I’ve often observed that the charitable spirit seems to emerge when teamed with a bit of overseas travel; volunteering to work with impoverished kids around the corner does not have the same appeal as helping disadvantaged children in a developing country, although their problems might be as acute.
While volunteering tends to be most appealing when long-haul travel is involved, studying abroad can actually be as attractive in a neighbouring country, given the high proportion of Asians travelling within their own continent to pursue secondary, tertiary or English language learning aspirations (pages 24-28). Lower costs and ease of access are two of the selling points of such a venture.
When comparing overseas enrolments in the UK, USA and Australia with various up-and-coming Asian study destinations, Malaysia and Singapore, for example, still lag behind, but they are exhibiting strong growth and the fact that they are aiming to attract students from long-haul markets such as Russia and Africa as well as Asian neighbours is testament to the potential for future growth in this region.
The reason that the UK is so far ahead of Australia and the USA in terms of overseas student numbers (notwithstanding the fact that EU enrolments are discounted for higher education because nationals are treated as UK citizens for entry/cost purposes) is that it enjoys significant short-haul business from Europe as well as relying on enrolments from Asia for the majority of its English language and tertiary intake from overseas (page 27).
Being able to tap into a regional market and receive long-haul business must be a position envied by countries such as Canada and New Zealand. Language schools in New Zealand attest that their location as the “most geographically isolated of all major English language destinations” is one good reason for the market’s continued reliance on agencies to funnel business to them (page 23).
Meanwhile, Taiwanese agencies report Japan is gaining ground as a study destination (pages 18-19), and Malaysia’s budget long-haul airline, AirAsia X, has hinted at more competitive services to Japan, Korea and the Middle East (page 12). There is a lot of intra-Asian activity to take heed of, or advantage of, depending on your position.