|Leap of faith
The competition for international students evolves every year, as the general outbound student community (and, of course, their study travel advisors) become interested in new types of programme, learning structure and new destinations that might be the answer to a student’s academic, financial and experiential goals.
We profile some of the new breed of English language learning destinations in this issue: Cyprus, Malaysia, the Philippines and possibly the newest contender India, all trying to capture market share from some of the more established English language teaching destinations (pages 46-48). India’s economy is one of the strongest in the world at the moment, along with China, and one school in India observed that some students felt they wanted to be where the action was, given that “the 21st century will almost certainly have an Indian stamp on it”.
India’s former colonial ruler, the UK, is in danger of relinquishing any “British stamp” that there might have been on the international ELT market, due to its commitment to reducing net migration, which may see most lower-level English speakers unable to study in the UK on a student visa and work part-time or transfer on to other courses while in the country. At the same time, international students graduating in the UK now have very little chance of remaining in the country to work.
With plenty of other study destinations nipping at the UK’s heels, it is inevitable that some students will prefer to study in countries with easier entry, transfer and work rules. Australia is certainly mindful of the impact its changes to permanent migration rules have had on international recruitment (with Indian enrolments down by 22.7 per cent in its vocational sector, for example). From April, it has made it slightly easier for some foreign nationals to enter its higher education system (page 6) and there are rumours that there may be more changes afoot which will enable graduating students in certain fields in Australia to enter the job market.
The UK is already a comparatively expensive destination for English language study (page 68) and to imagine students particularly long-term academic students will consider the price, difficult visa rules and stiff competition elsewhere and nevertheless choose a British experience may soon become a more difficult leap of faith.