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India now fastest-growing source market for intled, survey finds

A shift is occurring at the top of the source market ladder as India is widely perceived as the fastest-growing source market for the next three years, a survey by Dubai International Academic City and BMI Media has revealed, with emerging destinations forecast to benefit from its growth.

Indian students are looking at non-traditional destinations such as the UAE. Photo: Unsplash

Over 60% of the surveyed institutions reporting a loss in student numbers were US based

Although China is still the largest provider by student numbers, most universities surveyed are planning to increase their marketing efforts in India over the next 12 months.

“This new generation [of Indians] is highly motivated and eager to pursue degrees abroad”

“Our findings have confirmed that the education landscape is shifting,” BMI director Rupert Merrick said in a statement.

“We were intrigued to learn that most of the educational institutions surveyed expect India to become the fastest-growing student market, a position that was dominated by China for the past decade.”

Speaking with The PIE News, Merrick added that while the outbound postgraduate market is still growing, there is an increasing demand for undergraduate programs abroad, partly being driven by the expansion of international schools in India.

With nearly half of its population under 25, India’s growth as an education market is mainly linked to its demographics, Mohammad Abdullah, managing director of DIAC told The PIE.

“Fuelled by the country’s continued economic growth, this new generation is highly motivated and eager to pursue degrees abroad,” he explained.

Entitled Transnational Student Mobility and University Trends in 2018: University Marketing Methodologies, Offerings and Student Recruitment Strategies, and launched at the 2018 BMI Global Education Fair, the report surveyed 104 universities from 41 countries across six continents, the majority based in the USA, UK, Canada and the UAE.

It focused on understanding international student recruitment growth markets, methods, and hindrances.

Over 60% of the surveyed institutions reporting a loss in student numbers were based in the US, while Canada – where India’s growth surpassed China’s last year – reported the largest share of growing institutions.

“Affordability and student safety are points of concern”

Unsurprisingly, government policies were reported as the major hindrance to growing international student recruitment by all destination countries, but especially by US and UK providers.

When asked what policies should destination countries have in place to benefit from India’s growth, Merrick mentioned PSW.

“Indian students no doubt look for post-study work prospects as an important factor when choosing a destination.

“Affordability and student safety are other points of concern which should be addressed,” he explained.

According to Merrick, the biggest beneficiaries of India’s growth will be Australia, Canada and New Zealand, which will experience strong growth, while Germany and China will continue to rise as destinations.

But, he pointed out, other markets will grow as well.

“We are seeing interesting developments where Indians are also looking at non-traditional destinations such as Eastern Europe and education hubs such as the UAE, Malaysia and Singapore,” he continued.

“Emerging education hubs will benefit from India’s growth,” echoed Abdullah, adding that the first signs of this trend are already showing in the UAE.

“DIAC universities also reported an increase of 5% in Indian students that are currently registered across DIAC’s 27 universities, compared to the previous year,” he said.

Abdullah explained that the UAE has recently eased its student visa regulations, to make it easier for students to secure long-term residence and employment within the country.

“Indians are looking at non-traditional destinations such as Eastern Europe and education hubs such as the UAE”

“Employment matters to [international] students,” he added.

Although the leading sources of international students remain China and India, the push towards diversification of source markets is a priority for many institutions.

“I think the hallmark of any successful international student strategy is to have a diverse range of nationalities on campus,” said Merrick.

He said that, broadly speaking, institutions should be looking to increase their recruitment efforts in large markets such as Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Nigeria, Ghana and Vietnam, while Abdullah added Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

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