One agent survey referenced in the report found that the number of Chinese students applying to UK programs as well as institutions in other countries has nearly doubled from 20% in 2019 to 36.5% in 2022.
Despite the decrease in outbound students from East Asia, the UK fared better than other destinations but in the report 5 Trends to Watch in 2023 East Asia Edition, the British Council states that there is greater competition from “other major host markets as well as regional rivals”.
Closer locations, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, pose a greater threat to the UK when it comes to attracting East Asian students, as institutions in these regions can offer quality, affordable education closer to home.
Meanwhile, Canada and Australia are “more favourable destinations for emigration and post-study work rights”, according to the report.
Jazreel Goh, director of Malaysia and East Asia insights at the British Council, advised that UK HEIs need to highlight their competitive advantages to attract East Asian students and differentiate themselves from their competitors.
“World-class HEIs, graduate employability opportunities and strong alumni networks, all at a reasonable cost”
“World-class HEIs, graduate employability opportunities and strong alumni networks, all at a reasonable cost,” said Goh, listing elements of UK HEIs that should be leveraged during the enrolment processes in order to compete.
As the number of international students in the UK grows, reaching 680,000 in the 2021/22 academic year, the report highlights concerns about the quality of these enrolments.
Goh said that UK universities will be selected over local education markets if they shift their strategic approach “from finding the most students to finding the best students”. This involves, according to the British Council report, moving from a recruitment-based mentality to “a selection-based one.”