A recent survey was carried out in May 2008 which wanted to investigate the current mix of nationalities at UK language schools. Several aspects of UK language schools were looked at, from student nationality and reasons for studying, to the standard of schools and how students enrolled on their course. It was found that their is a very healthy mix of nationalities at UK language schools, with no one nationality dominating, providing an ideal environment for learning English as a foreign language. In fact, many students will choose a UK language school that has a small number of students from their own country.
Nationality Mix at UK Language Schools
The study found that students at UK language schools represented a total of 32 different nationalities. This number has dropped compared to 2007, when a total of 40 nationalities were represented. However, the mix of nationalities has continued to remain diverse, with no one nationality accounting for more than 9%.
A more significant finding was a significant fall in students from the Middle East. In fact, in 2007 Libya was the 4th most popular nationality, with 6.5% of the student population. Middle Eastern students together accounted for 15% of all students in 2007, but only 2% this year. We wouldn’t like to make any suggestions as to why, but perhaps the current political climate has had an effect.
This year, students from Thailand replaced Chinese students as the joint-top nationality with 9% of the total population. Thai students shared top-spot with students from Korea. 2008 saw a significant drop in the numbers of Chinese students, down from 7% in 2007 to just 1% in 2008.
Types of Student at UK Language Schools
Having looked at what nationalities are represented at UK language schools, we now turn our attention to their reasons for studying in the first place. Specifically, what types of student are they and how long are they studying for?
Over 37% of students who took part in the survey described themselves as being full time students. However, this is down considerably from the 53% who described themselves as students in 2007. The rest of the respondents were described as professionals – such as doctors and lawyers for example – at 19% and business people at 9%. Despite the drop in numbers of full time students, the average length of study at UK language schools actually increased from 15.9 weeks in 2007 to 23 weeks in 2008. The majority of students – 38% – are studying for between 20 and 39 weeks and a total of 14% of students are studying for 40 weeks or more.
An interesting finding of the study was that the numbers of students who were already using English at either work or higher education are equal, at 38% showing that many people have chosen to study at UK language schools to further their professional or educational development. Considering that the length of study has increased significantly, it is surprising to note that only 20% of respondents were studying for the purposes of going on to further education. 43% of students were studying English in order to better their current or future employment opportunities.
How have Students Chosen their English Language Schools?
While the use of education agents was down this year against 2007 a significant number of students still found agents a useful and reassuring method for finding a UK language school. This year 36% of students said they found their language school through an agent as opposed to 53.5% in 2007. Clearly, students appear to be carrying out their own research on UK language schools before approaching an agent to make the booking for them. 50% of students booked their place through an agent this year, down slightly from 60% in 2007. Most interestingly, there has been significant growth in the recommendation of UK language schools by friends and family as a means of finding a school, up from 26% in 2007 to 36% this year.
What do Students Think of UK Language Schools?
Despite a wide range of class sizes from 4 to 16 students, an average of 10.6, 20% of respondents expressed their opinion that class sizes were too large. And even more surprisingly, despite the rich diversity of nationalities at UK language schools, 9% of students polled complained that there were too many students from their own country at their school. Students from Turkey, Korea, Japan, Columbia and Thailand were the most likely to pick up on this issue.
What do you Think?
What do you think about these recent findings? Please do share your comments with us.