By Matthew Knott, News Editor of Study Travel Magazine

It is one of those weeks on the news desk when the sheer scale of the study travel industry comes into very sharp focus.

Firstly, at the beginning of the week we unveiled the latest Open Doors data from the Institute of International Education (IIE), revealing yet another healthy increase in the number of international students in the US and an all-time high of 886,052 students at university and college level. That is more than the entire population of Fiji or double the population of Malta!

If the current growth trajectory continues at this rate, then the US will top one million students within a couple of years.

And in terms of economic value, Nafsa reports that these students contributed some US$27 billion to the US economy in the 2013/14 academic year – that is greater than the total nominal GDP of scores of individual countries. 

Clearly the US has a strong attraction for many international students seeking a degree, but is such continued growth sustainable? Well ominously for rivals of the US in international recruitment, growth seems to be accelerating: 4.7 per cent in 2010/11, 5.7 per cent in 2011/12, 7.2 per cent in 2012/13, and now 8.1 per cent in 2013/14.

The ratio of international students as a percentage of the total student body has risen over that time, but is still relatively low by international standards at 4.2 per cent, meaning there is plenty of capacity for future increases. And recent shifts towards a more open and approved relationship with study travel agents would suggest further growth potential as well.

Also in our coverage this week, we have mention of a couple of other destinations showing promising futures in international recruitment: Study Group has announced a host of new institutional partnerships in the Netherlands, a country I have been researching recently for an upcoming feature in Study Travel Mag and one that definitely seems to be shifting towards agents as part of an ambitious international recruitment strategy; and our ‘View from the desk of’ provides a personal account of China’s magnetic attraction for many international students interested in the language of future business opportunities.

And lastly, coming back to the scale of the industry, do keep an eye out for the December issue of Study Travel Magazine, which will be arriving with you soon and bringing you our latest Global Market Report on trends and volumes in the major English language teaching destinations.


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