Showing your worth
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UK launches growth strategy for education exports
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Showing your worth
by Nicola Hancox, Editor of Study Travel Magazine
It’s not every day that data you have collated gets cited in a government report! As part of a strategic paper, the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) a ministerial department of the UK government analysed the value of education exports, challenges the sector faced and how it plans to harness this valuable commodity (see page 7). It was able to gauge the entire education sector’s suspected worth by using STM’s Global Market Report to highlight the ELT sector’s contribution to the UK economy (US$4 billion in 2011). It is good to see government, or at least a department within it, delivering a strategy that aims to showcase export education’s value to a country’s economy. However, no sooner does something like this get published, criticism (with some degree of validity) emerges. A representative from a UK university warned that a strategy of this nature should be about more than just income and international student recruitment (BIS has ambitiously forecast a 15-to-20 per cent increase in the number of overseas students in the next five years).
Seeing any strategy through from inception to implementation can be lengthy and, for those directly involved, arduous; an adjective key education bodies in Australia are only too familiar with (see page 6). Sick of the sheer amount of reviews and strategies in relation to international education that have been proposed (and fallen by the wayside) they have joined forces. “It’s time for action!” they chorused. This call to action comes at a time when Australia is at a political crossroads (at the time of writing elections were imminent) and response from the current opposition party has been positive. We’ll be keeping a close eye on the ‘action’ as it unfolds.
It is always interesting to hear from industry associations (both educators and agents) who review, annually, what they have achieved and what challenges have proved (to borrow a phrase) ‘resource-hungry’. For South African language school association, EduSA, it’s government recognition. However, all members will soon be accredited under the auspices of the Services Sector Education and Training Authority, which should help open up the lines of communication with a government, who are yet to embrace its small, but perfectly formed export education industry (page 15).
Meanwhile, we look at the part social media plays in schools’ marketing efforts (see page 32). Yes, it’s a cheap and effective way to reach potential students but does it negate the agent/school relationship? According to canvassed agents, no. Some believe it is a powerful tool that can actually help them better promote a school partner. Others argue, as an online platform, it can never replace the face-to-face services they provide.