We recently looked at the issue of international students turning away from countries with highly restrictive visa regulations and now consider the rise of Asia as a study destination for international students.
The rise of language and further education providers within Asia is a hot topic. Singapore and Malaysia have already established themselves as further education hubs in the region, and the Philippines looks set to follow suit – they are developing their English language sector, soon opening a school in Manila for executive English language learners.
These are not the only examples of a growing trend to deliver English as a Foreign Language programmes at home in Asia. Activity in this sector is gathering pace. The global career specialist Disco Inc from Japan is to launch a new venture called GlobalStudyAsia, which seeks to promote English language learning throughout the Asian continent.
Further, anecdotal evidence form education agents in Korea already shows a growing preference for Korean students to search for an education provider within Asia. Cost has been a key issue highlighted, as well as visa issues. The difficulty of securing visas to study in the West, and the increased ease of securing visas within Asia once further ASEAN integration happens in 2015 will surely continue to drive growth in this sector.
Indeed, the West doesn’t want to miss out either. Opening overseas campuses has become increasingly popular among educators from the UK and US. Education UK offers support to UK Universities wishing to go this route.
Whilst the rise of English language and further education provision throughout Asia is an interesting prospect for Asian education agents, it should raise alarm bells for UK-based educators and subsidiary businesses. The landscape is changing and there will be increased competition to get students to the UK. An oppressive UK visa regime has already caused the number of international students to drop. The rise of a new Asian Tiger will surely bring greater pressure to bear in this area. Whilst it is true that all the traditional Western study destinations are likely to suffer, it is those countries with tough visa regulations that will surely suffer the most.
On a more positive note, one thing that will never change however, is the demand for English language skills and the respect that Western higher education commands. There is hope, but Western governments must take note of the new dangers of making their countries unattractive to international students.