Finding new markets: are you making the most of the English UK Student Statistics?
23 August 2019

English UK's industry-leading Student Statistics Reports have been produced with our insight partner Bonard for the past five years, with constant improvements along the way.

But are you using the information to its fullest extent? We asked Patrik Pavlacic, Bonard's head of research, for his advice on making the most of the report.

Constantly evaluate the data to increase market share

"It was a rather challenging year for most of the membership and clearly highlighted the need to be strategic. If only one third of the markets are growing, it's about seeing opportunities to diversify. You need to be well-established in traditional, sizeable markets to generate volume, but at the same time looking for shifts in the global market to identify and tap into emerging markets."

To identify these markets, Patrik said members can leverage QUIC data, which complements the annual reports by providing in-depth market intelligence and breakdowns on more than 110 markets on a quarterly basis. Using QUIC data enables participating members to navigate their student recruitment by better understanding the student flows.

He added: "As the market reaches maturity, business intelligence on source market performance is the key. That's why we introduced like-for-like analysis to the Student Statistics Reports - comparing annual changes based on data from centres reporting in both 2017 and 2018 - which was already a standard in QUIC, to give the rest of the English UK membership to see real year-on-year fluctuations.

"Members need to remain vigilant, constantly evaluate and look at markets in which they can increase their market share. Developing markets in Asia and Latin America offer such opportunities."

Identify growth markets in unexpected places

English UK's state sector showed growth in 2018 after several years of decline, some of which can be attributed to changes in membership. The state sector remains largely dependent on Asia, which produce 58% of all student weeks and 59% of all state sector students. Moreover, China provided an increase of almost 20% in student weeks.

"Chinese students are attracted more to state-funded institutions, so that's not so much of a surprise," says Patrik, adding that a strong year-on-year performance by Poland, Romania and Bulgaria was more unexpected. In a like-for-like comparison, there were 2,929 more student weeks from Romania (a rise of 236%) and 1,528 from Poland (a rise of 13.2%).

Poland outperformed both Japan and Saudi Arabia, which both showed moderate growth between 2017 and 2018, placing itself as the number two source market for the state sector according to student weeks. Italy also performed well with a 20% increase on the previous year.

Tap into growth by diversifying your market reach

The 2019 Student Statistics Report highlighted interesting fluctuations in the performances of different markets, with positive development in Latin America and increasing numbers of Middle Eastern students diverting to the UK from competitors.

Patrik said: "The premier market in this sense was Saudi Arabia: they are looking for alternatives. There has been a huge decrease in numbers going to the US and now in Canada and there is a large proportion of students exploring other destinations and increasingly it the UK."As a result, student weeks from Saudi Arabia surged by almost 12%. He added: "In general, students in the Middle East are now increasingly opting for the UK, with Oman and Qatar also up on student weeks year-on-year, by 19% and 29% respectively."

"Latin America is generally a good market both for the UK and other destinations. If I was a private sector member, I would be looking to diversify my presence in Latin American countries and diversify my course portfolio. There are smaller markets than Brazil that grew significantly more – for instance, Argentina which produced 25% more student weeks and Chile, which was up by 29%."

However, English UK members are advices to closely monitor the trends, as QUIC data for Q1 2019 showed declines in these markets.

Patrik said: "Conversely, Colombia, which is fuelling growth in other destinations, declined for the UK. If you are able to diversify in Latin America and not be too concentrated in one country, that's the recipe."

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