Italy is the UK's biggest ELT market, sending almost three times as many students in 2017 than its closest rival. English UK figures show it has been the top sending market since 2011.
Read on for highlights and insights about Italy from our 2018 Student Statistics report and other English UK sources, as the first of a short series on our top sending markets.
How many students does Italy send to the UK, and for how long?
In 2017, 129,893 Italians studied in the UK, staying an average 2.1 weeks and making up over a quarter (26.4) of total student numbers. In all, they accounted for almost 15 per cent of student weeks.
There was a sharp upturn in the Italian ELT market in 2017, with student weeks rising by 18.4 per cent and student numbers by 29.3 per cent, after two years of decline.
Where do Italian ELT students study?
The overwhelming majority of Italians head for private sector centres: just 1,536 studied in the state sector. Italy is the top sending market for private sector ELT centres, accounting for 16.5 per cent of student weeks and 27.6 per cent of student numbers.
By contrast, Italy is the seventh biggest market for state sector ELT providers.
Who are the Italian ELT students?
Juniors are the most important element of the Italian market, as our QUIC reports demonstrate. Numbers spike in Q3, with almost half of the students under-18s.
In some years, students have come as part of PON and other officially-funded language development schemes.
What's the English UK view of the Italian ELT market?
Jodie Gray, English UK's director of strategic development, says that demographics means the major Western European markets are not growing overall, although Italian numbers rose in 2017.
"However, these markets are still the backbone and there's plenty of opportunity. The growth is being driven by junior groups, often school groups which peak around Easter and again in September and early October, with agent-created groups in the summer.
"What we do around Italy isn't necessarily about growing numbers, it's about maintaining market share, maintaining a presence and supporting ongoing training. That's not just for agents, but also school teachers, because they are so vital in the Italian market.
"So last year we ran a very popular event in Italy covering aspects such as choosing a language school, about why accreditation is important, safeguarding and group leader training. It is a very price-sensitive market and so we need to emphasise the importance of quality."
Any news on PON?
Jodie thinks PON is now unlikely to run this year.
In May Italian mayor Emiliano Valutulini spoke to the English UK Annual Conference about the PON scheme, explaining that it now covers five less well-developed Italian regions and will be available until 2023, and that any projects approved in the first round of the new scheme would have to be completed by the end of August 2019.
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