Japan market report helps prepare UK ELT providers for recovery
5 August 2020

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Japan market report helps prepare UK ELT providers for recovery

The new English Language Market Report Japan 2020 Members provides accredited UK ELT centres with a comprehensive picture of the current market, trends, opportunities and barriers in this important source market.

English UK and the British Council know the strategic importance of a data-driven approach to the promotion of the UK as an ELT destination. As part of our shared endeavour to support UK ELT providers with tailored market intelligence, last year we commissioned independent market research provider Bonard to identify mid- and long-term priority markets for the UK sector. 

Following industry consultation, Japan was designated as the first source country of focus. 

Globally, Japan is the third largest sending market for ELT. In 2018 the UK was the fifth most popular destination for Japanese students studying English abroad, behind Australia, Canada, the USA and the Philippines. However, since 2016 student numbers to the UK have been steadily increasing and in 2019 English UK members saw a 2% year on year increase in student weeks.

Short term uncertaintly, with mid-term potential to regain market share

As discussed by the panel of market experts in our recent Japan webinar (member login required), in the short term there remains uncertainty over Japanese students' ability to travel abroad – the UK is one of 100+ countries currently classed by Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Travel as level 3 i.e. 'avoid all travel'.

However, once the immediacy of the Covid-19 crisis is over and the market regains confidence to start travelling again, the report illustrates how the UK has potential to regain market share. 

It confirms multiple long-term and short-term factors have increased interest in studying abroad in Japan. These include current government policies to develop Japan as a more globalised nation; businesses searching for multicultural and multifaceted employees; and the 2020 Olympics Games (postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic).  

A unique, multifacted research approach

Through a unique, multifaceted research approach, the report features first-hand insights from students, education agencies, language centres and market insiders as well as the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. 

Patrik Pavlacic, Head of Research at Bonard, explains: "We wanted to come up with a holistic approach, applicable to any market and covering all angles. For example, carrying out 22 individual interviews with pre-selected market experts not only allowed us to enhance the research scope, as specific questions can only be posed to certain respondent types, but also to cross-reference and verify the information sourced. Therefore, it added clarity and reliability to the conclusions presented in the study."

Trends and recommendations

Amongst the emerging trends identified are: advances in approaches to learning English within Japanese education system; growing demand for study abroad for junior students; and greater variety in preferred course length.

The report provides specific set of recommendations and practical advice on how to market the UK at individual, joint and governmental level.

As Jodie Gray concludes: "the result is a one-stop resource that details promotional matrix, marketing and recruitment strategies, leveraging items which are of great importance not only to Japanese students but also education agencies. Agencies form an inherent and longstanding element of the market and, apparently, have the appetite to partner with more UK ELT providers. As many as 61% of responding agencies desired to have more partners in the UK."

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