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International enrolments up 14% in the Philippines

According to its Bureau of Immigration (BI), the Philippines welcomed 14% more foreign students in 2012 than the previous year. BI Commissioner Ricardo David Jr said the bureau’s student desk approved 47,478 applications for student visas and permits, up from 41,443 in 2011.

The bureau approved 47,478 student visas and permits in 2012, up from 41,443

“Our country is fast emerging as a new educational hub in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said. “More and more foreigners are coming here to study and it demonstrates recognition of the improved quality of our educational system.”

“Our country is fast emerging as a new educational hub in the Asia-Pacific region”

The bureau attributed much of the rise to the widespread use of English as a medium of instruction in the country’s schools and universities (93.5% of Filipinos are said to speak and understand it well). 16,478 of the foreign students last year held student visas, typically aimed at those studying at universities or colleges.

Others flag the country’s fast-growing English language teaching industry—31,000 students held Special Study Permits last year which are predominantly used to study short English courses. Learners from Asia, notably Korea, and the West are attracted by low study and living costs and ample opportunities for tourism.

“The Philippines can compete with the US, UK or Australia as an ideal destination for studying the English language,” said Ruth Tizon, director of the ESL Tour Program – an initiative aimed at bringing more foreigners to the country’s 500 language schools.

“Aside from its large English-speaking population, competent schools and faculty, the Philippines has a rich cultural heritage, offers diverse tourism attractions and activities, and warmth and hospitality.”

There are barriers to growth, however. The bureau has identified a rise in bogus students entering the country and illegal language centres with poor standards are becoming more common, especially in the provinces.

In response the BI now requires all schools to designate a liaison officer to represent or assist foreign enrolees in applying for a visa, as is done in the US. In addition, only schools accredited by government agencies are authorised to accept foreign students.

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