English UK's 2020 Student Statistics Report: continuing rise in student numbers in 2019
The UK welcomed 1% more students last year than in 2018, continuing from the market rebound of 2017.
The proportion of juniors rose to 54% of the total, and a quarter of all weeks were spent in London. Central England saw a 21% spike in student weeks, while Northern England was the best performer, with student weeks rising to 25,877, a rise of 9%.
A comparison of centres reporting in 2018 and 2019 shows a stable market for student weeks, despite total student weeks falling to 1,839,655, a decrease of 1.5%.
The report covers part-time students for the first time, with 24,416 learning at English UK member centres for under 10 hours a week, 17,727 of them in private sector centres.
Jodie Gray, English UK's interim chief executive, said although it might seem "less than timely" there were good reasons to publish the student statistics report now, despite Covid-19's effect on the market. "As we work together to rebuild UK English language teaching after the Covid-19 crisis, rigorous, granular statistical information and analysis is essential to inform and support everything we do.
"In this time of uncertainty, robust market intelligence will enable us to make the well-informed, innovative and brave business decisions which will face us well into next year. Student statistics and market insights will be among the essential tools provided to members by English UK as we rise to our biggest challenge to date: to rebuild and thrive."
Patrick Pavlacic, head of research at English UK's insight partner Bonard, said: "Last year, the UK not only strengthened its position as the most popular place to study English in the world, it was one of a very few destinations which experienced an increase in student numbers in 2019."
In his introduction to the report, Bonard CEO Samuel Vetrak, wrote: "The rebound we saw in 2017 appears to have laid the foundation for incremental increases in student numbers in the years to come. Since then, the UK has proven its attractiveness as a study destination as well as its readiness in terms of capacity to host a growing number of English language learners, fuelled by the junior segment in particular.
"At the same time, the decreasing length of stay poses a systematic challenge to the future of UK ELT. Private sector members are increasingly exposed to students' preference for programmes with a shorter course duration, finding themselves caught up in a debate with customers to justify the time spent in an immersive environment and the essential added value it offers. Meanwhile, the state sector, where student motivation tends to be more related to academic achievement, is enjoying a more favourable trend in this regard."
A comparison of centres reporting in 2018 and 2019 shows a stable market in terms of student weeks, despite total student weeks falling to 1,839,655, a decrease of 1.5%. The report covers part-time students for the first time, with 24,416 learning at English UK member centres for under 10 hours a week, 17,727 of them in private sector centres.
State sector ELT centres
Other highlights for state sector members were a rise in student weeks of 8.4% compared with a fall in student numbers of 2.1%. Top five sending markets were China (41.2% of student weeks), Saudi Arabia (5.9%), Japan (5.5%), Romania (4.7%) and Poland (3.9%).
Private ELT centres
In private centres, student numbers grew by 1% and student weeks by 3%, with 33% of student weeks taken by under-18s. Each centre hosted an average of 1,024 junior learners, an increase of 9% over 2018. Adult stays shortened again, to 4.9 weeks. The top five source markets were Italy (16.% of student weeks), Saudi Arabia (11.7%), Spain (6.9%), China (6.6%) and France (5.5%).
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