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Global tutoring industry experiencing explosive growth

As students across the globe increasingly enrol in higher education courses, tutoring has become a prime method for bolstering traditional learning. Because entrance examinations are critical for gaining admission into many top universities and colleges, and competitiveness across the educational sector is at an all-time high, students and their families are more willing than ever to invest money and time in tutoring in order to gain an edge.

The global private tutoring market, encompassing all educational levels as well as vocational and language schools, is already a multi-billion dollar industry, and according to estimates from Global Industry Analysts, Inc. (GIA), it will reach US $102.8 billion by the year 2018.

GIA’s “Private Tutoring: A Global Strategic Business Report” reveals that most of the tutoring market – about 90% – is centred in the United States, Europe, and Asia-Pacific (notably Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and China). South Korea alone will account for 15% of the global market by the end of 2012, reaching a value of US $13.9 billion. India is a leader in providing e-tutoring at affordable prices, particularly in the area of maths, with the US as the largest consumer of its services.

Reasons behind increased demand for tutoring services

According to GIA, the use of tutors has exploded in recent years due to the following factors:

  • favorable demographics;
  • the adoption of new technologies in various educational practices;
  • rising student enrolments;
  • intense competition among students;
  • the need to excel in competitive exams, particularly in Asian countries;
  • the inability of standard education systems to address the unique needs of each student;
  • lack of teaching staff at schools;
  • outdated school infrastructural facilities.

In a blog post for educationincrisis.net, Iveta Silova points out that much of the inability of school systems to effectively address students’ needs stems from the widespread slashing of school budgets. In addition, it has political elements, with free marketeers describing traditional education as a failure.

She explains: “Private tutoring is eating into what has been left of the impoverished public school curriculum itself. In some countries (for example, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Egypt, and Libya among many others), it is practically impossible to complete the state-mandated curricula without enlisting private tutoring services. In these countries, only part of the state curriculum is available during the official school hours – the rest of the state curriculum is being unofficially ‘sold’ through private tutoring lessons.

“Often, teachers offer private tutoring lessons to their own students after school hours on school grounds. While the reasons for such an irregular ‘merging’ of public schooling and private tutoring vary – ranging from insufficient school hours in Cambodia to an overloaded curriculum in Azerbaijan to low teacher salaries in many countries – the outcomes are the same. The complete public school curriculum is available only in combination with private tutoring, leaving behind many students who are unable to pay the full price for education.”

GIA further pointed out that “volatile economic conditions and budget cutbacks proved to be a blessing in disguise for the private tutoring industry. The sector remained relatively insulated amidst the economic upheavals, largely due to the enormous significance placed by society and parents on scholastic achievement that ensured steady growth even during the crisis period.”

Another reason the use of tutors is rising is because the technology revolution is currently reshaping the educational sector – as discussed on ICEF Monitor in recent months. The e-tutoring piece of the global tutoring industry is estimated to be worth more than US $12 billion, and along with other types of distributed learning systems, is undergoing a rapid, tech-based expansion fuelled by demand for its convenient and inexpensive services.

Since today’s ambitious students often expect to use tutoring services, counsellors and recruiters may want to develop a firm knowledge of tutoring resources offered by schools, as well as those present in the community and online.

Examples of tutoring and tutoring-related services

All tutoring services promise great results, but the reality is that in a rapidly expanding and unregulated industry, effectiveness will vary. It’s easy to get a sense of which services are most effective simply by searching the Internet for user reviews. Below is a brief listing of some tutoring-related services, along with a note or two on each:

  • Stizzil.com – this is an online tutoring company that promises officially licensed educators, and offers an interactive programme that records the tutoring, allowing students and teachers to review sessions.
  • Tutor Vista – this online tutoring service, the largest in the world according to its website, is based in India and specialises in all levels of English, mathematics, and science, with most of its customers located in the US.
  • Club Z! – operating throughout North America, it claims to be the largest in-home tutoring service in the world, however many of the locations are franchises and quality varies.
  • Home Tutors – based in the UK, Home Tutors has a postcode sortable database of more than 11,000 registered tutors.
  • Eduboard.com – offers 30-minute online sessions, and 24/7 homework assistance with a guaranteed two-hour response time.
  • Tutor.com – has logged over 8 million sessions and has a mobile app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
  • GrowingStars.com – founded in 2002, the company specialises in math tutoring from elementary through high school, and is known for offering excellent test prep.
  • Tutor Matching Service – this is an online community built within Facebook that matches students with tutors. The tutors go through a certification process that is designed to ensure that the company employs only high quality teachers.
  • Net Tutor – this company was formed in 1996, offers all levels of math and English tutoring, and employs only US-based teachers. The website has had over one million unique users and more than two million tutoring sessions.

GIA’s research report profiles some of the companies cited above, as well as other major players such as: A+ Tutoring, Building Educated Leaders For Life, Daekyo Co. Ltd., Educomp Solutions Ltd., Fleet Tutors, Huntington Learning Centers Inc., JEI Learning Centers, Kaplan Inc., Kids ‘R’ Kids International Inc., Kumon, Learn It Systems, LearningRx, Mathnasium LLC, Megastudy Co. Ltd., Rocket Learning Inc., Supreme Evaluations Inc., Sylvan Learning Inc., The Princeton Review Inc., Tutor Doctor, Tutoring Club Inc., and Woongjin Thinkbig Co., Ltd.

Volunteer sector and the tutoring industry

Looking at the industry from the opposite perspective, students can give rather than receive – which is to say, they can supplement their income by tutoring locally, or becoming an e-tutor. Some educational institutions also maintain peer tutoring programmes in which the students help other students and earn class credits.

Another area of the tutoring industry is volunteer tutoring. For example, the organisation Students Offering Support (SOS) uses tutoring to raise money for creating sustainable education projects in developing nations. According to its website, since 2004 over 2,000 SOS volunteers have tutored over 25,000 students and raised more than CDN $900,000 for various development projects across Latin America.

A similar organisation is Vatsalya, which is based in India and operates a distance education programme for disadvantaged children and young adults living in or around Jaipur. In all, Vatsalya has more than 600 volunteers from over 27 different countries across the globe, and also offers internships in human rights, developmental and international studies, social sciences, business, education and health services.

Future looks bright for tutoring industry

Right now, opportunities abound in the global tutoring field for students, teachers, educational institutions, tech firms, and business in general. The magazine and website Inc. listed tutoring as one of the top 16 industries worldwide for starting a new business, with a growth rate of 7% in the last year.

With millions of tech-savvy students entering higher education, and millions more making their way through strained school systems, the demand for individualised instruction is expected to increase for the foreseeable future. Educators, agents and service providers should consider how they are prepared to service that demand in the years to come.

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