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Preliminary data reveals strong 2012 for US IEPs

In an upbeat session that featured on the last day of the NAFSA Conference last week, good growth in 2012 for both student numbers and student weeks across Intensive English Programs (IEPs) was indicated by the Institute for International Education (IIE), based on preliminary findings of its IEP Survey 2012 that it conducts in partnership with EnglishUSA members.

As well as Saudi Arabia and Japan; China, South Korea and Brazil were also represented in the top-five markets

IIE’s Christine Farrugia revealed that a 10% incline in enrolments in 2012 was expected, year on year; further data returns will yield a more complete picture of IEP trends for the past year.

Farrugia cited current data indicating over a million student weeks taught to the 80,338 students reported, showing a growth in average length of stay for each IEP student to almost 14 weeks, on average.

Current data is indicating over a million student weeks taught to the 80,338 students reported

Saudi Arabia remains the most important source country for this IEP sector, which can serve as a funnel on to higher education; understandable given the significant student traffic that the King Abdullah Scholarship Scheme (KASP) is sending to the US.

But aside from Saudi Arabia and Japan (fourth largest market), IIE’s data revealed that for most of the top 25 overall student source countries, intensive English programs were studied by 5% or fewer of these nationals.

Saudis are expected to account for around 22% of all IEP students in 2012; Farrugia said that 36% of all Saudi students in the USA were enrolled on IEPs and 12% of all Japanese students.

China, South Korea and Brazil were also represented in the top-five markets for IEPs. Other interesting trends for 2012 were a big upswell in German (no.8) and Kuwaiti (no.9) numbers.

Just over half of those students represented by the survey findings were enrolled at independent providers, and most were studying full-time.

The survey findings were followed by a presentation from Greg Thompson from the US Department of Commerce, who told delegates how his department was helping IEPs build up their education exports. Efforts include virtual agent fairs and trade missions; Thompson indicated that input about trade mission destinations would be welcomed, and suggested central America was on the cards in the future.

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