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BBSN reports “buoyant” EU market in survey

There is “cautious optimism” as recruitment has improved for British boarding schools – but rising costs are shifting demand towards shorter courses, the annual British Boarding Schools Network agent survey revealed.

Despite turbulence, BBSN say UK boarding education is still the 'gold standard'. Photo: British Boarding Schools Network

Safety and security, together with high standards of pastoral care, are increasingly important for families

Based on responses from around 200 education agents in 43 countries, the BBSN 2018 survey found that agents reported recovery from many source countries following years of “turbulent recruitment landscape”.

“Markets are more buoyant in Europe now that the Brexit effect has calmed down”

Markets from which agents reported growth included China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Mexico, Malaysia and a number of European countries.

“There was a sense that markets are more buoyant in Europe now the Brexit effect has calmed down,” BBSN head of strategy and development Jan Shilling told The PIE News.

Some increases have been also reported from Central and South America, with Brazil entering the top 30 source markets for the first time. Recruitment is on the up from Russia as well, although for shorter periods, signalling a demand shift that is impacting on the whole sector.

“A British boarding education is still perceived as the gold standard in many countries across the world – but the cost has put the full 7 or more years of full boarding beyond the reach of many,” Shilling explained.

Shilling added that some families are looking at ways of accessing part of the offer, via short stay, overseas British boarding schools, or summer schools.

The report also gathered feedback from agents and recommendations to boarding schools. The message, Shilling said, is very consistent across the markets covered.

Safety and security, together with high standards of pastoral care, are increasingly important for families. Schools outside London and other big cities, Shilling explained, “are now more popular due to security [concerns]”.

Flexibility, application processing speed and all inclusive packages were also mentioned by many of the agents surveyed, besides the increased request for short-term programs.

Agents also said that the standards of facilities and accommodation were also becoming more important, together with customer service quality “to rival that in Canada,” a frequently mentioned competitor country.

“It is a buyers’ market so those who can afford a UK boarding school are fastidious customers and they want the most for their money,” Shilling concluded.

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