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Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
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1st Mar 2023

UK ELT recovery continues with solid growth in Q4 2022

Short on time? Here are the highlights:
  • The ELT sector in the UK is reporting a 150% increase in student weeks for 2022, compared to 2021
  • This amounts to roughly 56% of pre-pandemic volumes for the quarter
  • The sector is projected to reach 80% of pre-COVID business in 2023

The number of student weeks booked by UK ELT providers more than doubled in 2022, compared to the year prior. Total weeks for the year totalled 479,993, more than double (+152%) the 190,629 weeks reported for 2021.

Those figures are according to Quarterly Intelligence Cohort (QUIC) data released by English UK throughout the year, including the most recent release for Q4 which arrived this week.

Compiled quarterly summaries for all four quarters of 2022 with comparisons to the corresponding periods for 2021. Source: English UK

The peak body adds that nearly eight in ten bookings (77%) were made via agents in 2022. And that 22% of all student weeks were delivered for group bookings, with the balance for individual students.

"QUIC data for Q4 confirms that the UK ELT sector's recovery trajectory continues at a gradual pace," adds an accompanying statement from English UK. "With total student weeks up 28,000 (44%) on Q4 2021, the overall student week volume in the last quarter of 2022 reached about 56% of 2019 levels."

The report adds that, "Recovery for the adult segment began from the beginning of Q1 2022, but strong rebound in the junior segment was not seen until Q3 2022."

This pattern is well illustrated in the following chart, which outlines the share of bookings for adult and junior students for each quarter in 2022.

Share of student weeks for adult and junior learners by quarter, 2022. Source: English UK

Focus on Q4

The QUIC data for Q4 reveals that General English courses were by far the dominant course format, accounting for 86% of junior bookings and 88% of adult bookings during the quarter.

Outside of the summer months of Q3 – when junior students from Italy, Spain, and France have a significant impact on the mix of sending markets – Saudi Arabia remained by far the largest student market for UK ELT in Q4. All told, the top ten markets, as outlined in the chart below, accounted for two thirds (67%) of all student weeks for the quarter.

"Saudia Arabia ranked as the top source market in Q4 2022, with a total of 18,940 student weeks. With 5,145 more student weeks than in Q4 2021, it also had the biggest increase in absolute numbers," adds the Q4 QUIC report.

Top ten sending markets for UK ELT in Q4 2022. Source: English UK

Under current forecasts, the ELT sector in the UK is projected to reach 80% of pre-pandemic volumes in 2023. An accompanying statement from English UK explains, "In economic impact studies conducted during pandemic our insight partner BONARD forecast a 55-60% recovery for whole year of 2022 and 80% for 2023. BONARD believe the UK ELT market is in trajectory to meet these figures."

For additional background, please see:

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