By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

Forgive me for highlighting tertiary enrolments in the US again this week, but two announcements have bought the sheer scale of the international education export industry there into sharp focus.

First, the Open Doors enrolment data revealed a seven per cent increase to an all-time-high of 819,664 students; then a related research analysis by Nafsa calculated that the economic contribution of these students rose 10 per cent to some US$24 billion.

It is worth reiterating that figure of US$ 24 billion: this is more than the entire GDP of El Salvador, Estonia or Cyprus, according to the CIA World Factbook, the kind of sum you can imagine a megalomaniac Bond villain demanding. And this value only relates to international students enrolled at universities and colleges.

The phrase “all-time-high” is likely to be repeated many times over coming years. Ominously for rivals in international recruitment, overseas students still only constitute 3.9 per cent of the total higher education student body in the US, suggesting significant capacity for expansion, compared with rates closer to 20 per cent in Australia and the UK.

One country that declined again in the Open Doors data was Japan, but agents there and educators worldwide will no doubt welcome a high-profile, celebrity-endorsed media campaign launched by the government to encourage young people to study abroad, a scheme supported by a doubling of the Ministry of Education’s scholarship budget. Another news story this week highlighted the potential for growth in Africa beyond the traditional recruitment base of Nigeria.

Lastly, our thoughts go out to all those in the Philippines following the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan. The international education community tends to pulls together to offer support in times such as this, and it no doubt will again to assist a country that is becoming a study abroad destination in its own right.

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