#6 Increasing internationalisation: The QS global international student ratio is steadily increasing. Many countries have set ambitious targets: Australia wants 720K onshore enrolments by 2025; Canada 450K international students by 2022; China 500K, Germany 350K and Japan 300K by 2020. France intends to increase international student intake by 20% (to 470K). In contrast, 56 of the UK’s 76 universities saw their international student ratios drop year-on-year and the 2017 UK average has also fallen. UCAS applicants from the EU declined 4.4% in 2017.
#7 Weakening UK plc brand: The global strength of the British education brand has ensured our position as the 2nd most popular destination for foreign students, after the US. Recently, however, the International Student Admissions Service (ISAS) found 62% of 1,700 students polled listed Canada as 1st choice, the US came in 2nd (42%) and Europe (16%) 3rd, ahead of the UK (11%). In QS Education Solutions research, 55% of current & potential international students felt the UK offered good value for money, but viewed Germany as a better value destination and Canada an equally sound investment.
#8 Challenging student recruitment: In addition to global competition, the home market will prove an ongoing challenge. HEPI’s 2017 Student Academic Experience Survey revealed falling perceptions of value for money & low wellbeing among the student population. The number of students from England & Scotland fell over 14% between 2007/08 & 2015/16. Part-time student numbers have collapsed, down 55%. Home UCAS applicants decreased for the second year running by 3.1% in 2017 (-18,220).
#9 More flexible learning: Since students “have yet to love England’s high-fees model of funding UG education” (HEPI), universities are being forced to rethink traditional full-time, campus-based approaches. December saw the launch of the government’s consultation on accelerated two-year degrees, which offer a potential £25K benefit (from fee savings & a year’s average graduate salary). The Government also wants 3 million apprentices earning & learning by 2020; more than 2,000 have started a degree apprenticeship since their launch in 2015. We can expect more flexible learning & employer partnerships.
#10 More rules & regulation: Since the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published its 2015 guidance on students’ rights in consumer law, there has been unease within marketing departments: understandable since the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently ruled six UK universities had breached advertising rules. Section 75 of the Higher Education & Research Act 2017 promises greater control. The Office for Students (OfS) is to establish a new regulatory framework, covering how providers enter and remain eligible for university title, how they are risk-assessed, monitored and what potential actions can arise.
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