By Matthew Knott, News Editor of StudyTravel Magazine

A couple of weeks ago I touched upon the issue of international student recruitment targets for emerging and non-English-speaking destinations, and this comes up again in this week’s news coverage.

Last time it was Korea aiming for 200,000 students by 2023, and one of our stories touches upon Turkey’s identical aims. Both targets could kindly be described as “ambitious”, or more unsympathetically as “unrealistic” or worse.

To be fair to Turkey, they have just announced an almost 50 per cent year-on-year increase in the total number of international students enrolled, but this doesn’t even bring them close to halfway. They would require a growth rate of 15 per cent per year to reach the headline goal.

To some extent the targets are probably knowingly illusory, set at an eye-catching level to get media exposure across the world and raise the profile of the country as a study travel destination.

Looking at Turkey’s international student data, what is clear is that the country has become a regional educational hub and is attracting students from markets such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Afghanistan in the thousands. As such, Turkey is perhaps not yet in a direct recruitment battle in other markets with the major higher education destinations, but it will need to be at some point.

This is, as ever, where agents come in, and the last time we published a tertiary focus article on Turkey’s higher education offerings, there were indications that some institutions were utilising agents to reach their recruitment goals.

Another country that was mentioned previously for its growth targets was Japan, and interestingly Nepalese agencies have developed productive relations with Japanese universities, according to the International Education Representatives’ Initiative of Nepal (IERIN) agency association.

IERIN’s President, Uttam Pant, was commenting on a record outbound year for Nepalese students and the fact that Japan was the most popular destination in 2014/15, a statistic backed up by Japan’s international student data. While agents are mostly sending to colleges and language schools initially, Pant noted that some private universities were willing to work on a commission basis – another positive sign for the industry.

In the language sector, we have a very interesting ‘view from the desk of…’ interview this week with Thiago España, Director of Brazilian agency World Study and board member at ALTO.

España is championing, through ALTO, a set of Industry Standards that will simplify and standardise the way that schools present information to agencies. He says that virtually all agents they canvassed said every single school partner presents information on elements such as pricing, commission and accommodation in a different way, causing considerable administrative burden and costs for agents.

It is difficult to argue with a system that will make life easier for partners on both sides of the industry, and España is hoping to start a fruitful discussion within the industry on the need for and the ultimate shape of such standards.



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