Monday 07 October 2013

The UK will be one of the world’s fastest growing destinations for international students by 2024, despite the global economic downturn, a new report by the British Council forecasts today.

Over the next decade the UK will retain its position as the second strongest market after the US, attracting an extra 126,000 international students, a study by the British Council’s Education Intelligence service predicts. 
Despite challenging economic conditions, the mobile student market globally is set to grow from 3.04 million in 2011 to 3.85 million in 2024, says a report on the findings, The Future of the World’s Mobile Students to 2024.
Between 2009 and 2011 the number of students choosing to study at higher education institutions abroad exceeded expectations with numbers accelerating to outpace world GDP growth, the report says.
Looking further ahead, the US, UK and Australia are likely to continue as the dominant host countries in 2024, but they will face growing competition from China. 
The report notes that China hosted more than 328,000 international students in 2012 and has set a target of 500,000 by 2015. “China will be competing with the US, UK and Australia as one of the world’s leading destinations” it says.
And as China invests in its universities and colleges over the next decade there may be a reduction in the number of Chinese travelling abroad for higher education. Such a downturn could be significant for host nations, since China was the source of two fifths of the growth in international student numbers between 2009-2011.
However, the UK would be less affected by a drop in Chinese students going abroad than some other countries, because of its strong position in several other fast-growing outbound markets.
The UK is expected to recruit strongly from the fast-growing markets of India, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. They contributed 44,000, 24,000, 14,000 and 12,000 respectively to the UK’s total growth as a destination market.
Over the last few years growth in the number of mobile students has exceeded expectations and the indicators suggest that the market will continue to expand.
China and India are forecast to remain the major source of outbound mobile students, contributing 855,000 and 376,000 of the global total of almost 3.9 million in 2024. The two countries alone are expected to contribute 32 per cent of total global outbound higher education students in 2024. 
Germany is forecast to become the third largest sender of higher education students by 2024, with a predicted 139,000 outbound students, overtaking South Korea. Germany is also forecast to be hosting 180,000 international students by 2024, but the rate of growth in inbound students to Germany is expected to slow.
Elizabeth Shepherd, the British Council’s Research Director and author of the report, said “Mobile higher education students are set to remain an attractive market for host countries across the world, with continued strong growth forecast over the next decade”.
“Against a backdrop of fragile economic conditions and recoveries, slowing international trade generally, squeezed household incomes and a global decline in the number of people aged 18-22, this growth is impressive.” Ms Shepherd commented.

Notes to Editor

For further information and a copy of the report, please contact:

Tim Sowula, Senior Press Officer, British Council
+44 (207) 389 4871 or +44 7771 718 135

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