Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
18th Dec 2019

Year in review: What we learned in 2019

If you are feeling at this stage that the past year went by in a flash, you are not alone. Especially with the swirl of world-shaping political events, a renewed emphasis on diversification and new markets, and the ever-expanding range of ways in which students and agents and educators connect with each other, the last 12 months have passed quickly indeed.

But before we get ready to usher in 2020, let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the key takeaways and lessons learned in 2019.

Changes at the top

This year continued a period of rapid expansion for Canada and cemented the country’s position as a destination to watch. Among the world’s top ten host countries, none have grown faster than Canada over the last five years.

Indeed, both Canada and Australia have claimed a greater share of the global student market over this period, with each extending their strong growth trajectories through 2019. Those gains have come in part at the expense of other traditional leaders – the US and the UK – whose foreign enrolments have been relatively flat over the same timeframe.

2020 will mark another year of heightened competition as Canada and Australia continue to work to consolidate recent-year gains and achieve further progress in diversifying foreign enrolments. The big question marks in the year ahead will be around what steps US educators and policy makers will take to boost competitiveness, the impact of the UK’s new post-study work visa, and the role that other top destinations outside of the top five (US, Australia, UK, Canada, China) will play in shaping the competitive dynamic.

Asia is now a real competitive force

In addition to China – which is now solidly in place as the world’s fifth-leading study destination – there are several other Asian countries that have all set out substantial goals and strategies to further expand their foreign enrolments.

These include Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, and together they are creating a new momentum toward intra-regional mobility in Asia.

Underpinning this trend is the growing profile and reputation of higher education institutions in many regional destinations within Asia, the gravitational pull of the Chinese economy, the prevailing demographic trends in other emerging destinations such as Japan and South Korea, and the greater emphasis on proximity to home and affordability for students from a number of emerging sending markets within the region.

Employability is the driver

Research continues to accumulate and to clearly demonstrates that many international students, especially those from developing economies, are keenly interested in studying in countries where there is a clear path toward employment after graduation and after that, even permanent residency. Not coincidentally, major destination countries with rapidly expanding international student populations, such as Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, and Japan, offer solid post-graduation work rights.

This trend highlights the strong connection between employment goals and study abroad, both with respect to the students’ employment prospects overseas and in their home countries.

We also see increasing evidence of the importance of upskilling and credential layering (including with non-traditional qualifications) as drivers of demand for study abroad.

There are clear implications in this for recruiters, not the least of which is a distinct focus in recruitment marketing on employment outcomes for graduates.

Reinforcing the importance of agents

The key role of education agents in international student mobility is increasingly well recognised, with new findings this year pointing to both a growing engagement with agents on the part of US educators and the very significant impact of agents in other leading destinations, including the UK, Australia, and Canada.

Going forward, we can expect new models and recruiting strategies emerging within the agency sector, and very likely a further expansion of the services on offer as well.

Needless to say

A special thank you to all of our readers, as always, for following along with us this year. We can all expect another fast-paced year in international education in 2020 and we look forward to bringing you the latest insights and analysis every week.

Most Recent

  • Australian unis brace for risk assessment as visa rejections continue Read More
  • Former edtech unicorn’s stock price plunges as universities take DIY approach to online learning Read More
  • Malaysia opens new post-study visa option for degree graduates Read More

Most Popular

  • Canada’s foreign enrolment grew by more than 30% in 2022 Read More
  • Measuring cost of study and cost of living across study destinations Read More
  • Recruiting in the Emirates: Big goals, world-class education, and new scholarships Read More

Because you found this article interesting

Research shows that international students now actively evaluate institutions’ environmental records The following article is adapted from the 2024 edition of ICEF Insights magazine. The complete digital edition is...
Read more
Five international education trends that will extend into 2024 Here we are at the end of another fascinating year in international education, and as always, we like...
Read more
Survey finds students more open to branch campus study IDP’s Emerging Futures 4 survey gathered responses from more than 10,000 students between 19 July and 21 August...
Read more
ICEF Podcast: Talk of the town – Live from ICEF Berlin! In this special episode, recorded live at ICEF Berlin, ICEF’s Craig Riggs and Martijn van de Veen are...
Read more
OECD reports that international student flows reached a record high in 2022 The OECD’s International Migration Outlook always makes for interesting reading and the 2023 edition is no exception. The...
Read more
Global satisfaction survey shows US leading Australia, Canada, and UK A return to in-person learning on campus has dramatically improved the experience of both domestic and international students,...
Read more
Survey finds university leaders maintaining a strong focus on international student recruitment Navitas and Nous Group have released an excellent report based on an inaugural online survey of 100 senior...
Read more
Australia draws level with Canada in latest student destination preference survey The latest edition of IDP’s recurring Emerging Futures survey gathered responses from more than 10,000 “prospective, current, and...
Read more
What are you looking for?
Quick Links