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April 22, 2004
British educational exports now "slightly ahead of the British car industry"

And now, here come the Indians:

Indian students will be the third largest overseas students in the United Kingdom by 2020, outnumbering those from USA, Germany and France, a study indicated on Wednesday.

As many as 29,800 Indians are expected to study in the UK by 2020 as against 8,600 in 2005, the study by the British Council and Universities said.

China, however, will have the largest number of overseas students in the UK 130,900 in 2020 as against 32,000 in 2005, the study said. It will be followed by Greece which will have 34,800 in 2020 as against 28,000 in 2005.

Britain could earn £13 billion a year from international students in higher education by 2020 in addition to the £3 billion they currently contributed to the economy, the study stated.

A separate government-funded study calculated that education has become one of Britain's most important export industries.

The report by Geraint Johnes, Professor of Economics at Lancaster University, said the economy earned £11 billion annually from 'exports' of tuition for foreign students, training, examinations, publishing and educational programming.

That places education in the same league as exports of oil and financial services, which earned Britain £14.3 billion and £13.6 billion in 2002, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

It is also slightly ahead of the British car industry, food beverages and tobacco, which earned 10 billion in exports. Education also dwarfs exports of ships and aircraft, at 6.5 billion, while computer services earned the country only £2.6 billion.

Britain at present has a quarter of the market in foreign students, with 270,000 enrolled in its universities and contributing an average of £16,000 a year each in fees and living expenses to the economy.

The British Council study, entitled 'Vision 2020: Forecasting International Student Mobility', concluded that the total could rise to 511,000 by 2020 if Britain maintained its present track record for recruitment.

However, student numbers would rise to 400,000 by 2010 and 870,000 in 2020 if both the country and its universities were promoted more aggressively in fast-growing new markets.

Demand was rising quickest in Asia, with annual growth in student numbers forecast at 15 per cent in China, 13 per cent in India, and 12.6 per cent in Pakistan.

Chinese students alone would outnumber those from the whole of the enlarged European Union of 25 states by 2020.

Some 145,000 students could be studying in Britain by then, compared with 43,000 now, making China by far the biggest and most lucrative single market for British education.

India would become the third-largest market with 30,000 students, as many as France and Germany combined. Asia would overtake Europe as Britain's main source of foreign students, accounting for more than half of student places.

Fascinating. I kept trying to find a place to stop copying, but kept wanting the next paragraph, and the next, and the next.

I speculated yesterday (see the immediately previous posting) about what impact all those Chinese students will make, upon China and upon the world. What the above report makes me ask now is: what effect will all this have on Britain, and on British education?

I'm interested that education is only "slightly" ahead of the car industry here. I thought the car industry here to be very tiny, but apparently not. I guess it's merely that our car industry isn't owned by us any more. There's still plenty of it.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:29 AM
Category: Higher education

One does have to wonder, how long we can make money be educating our competitors. Presumably one generation is the answer - after that they will educate themselves. Doesn't seem a growth industry really!

Comment by: Andrew Duffin on April 22, 2004 04:42 PM

It is indeed interesting to follow the way trade in education is evolving. Some time back, I had looked at India's education imports and the possibility of India exporting education by leveraging the (Indian Institutes of Technology) IIT brand - India's strongest educational brand. See my posts at http://prayatna.typepad.com/education/2003/11/impact_of_forei.html and http://prayatna.typepad.com/education/2004/04/promoting_india.html

But there is another interesting exports opportunity quietly growing in education - developing countries are exporting teachers to the developed countries. Indian teachers have been going to the US, the UK and many other countries to teach. See http://prayatna.typepad.com/education/2004/04/indian_teachers.html

Comment by: Satya on May 4, 2004 12:48 PM
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