Market insights: UK ELT and Japan
Globally, Japan is the third largest sending market for ELT. In 2019 it was the sixth biggest source market for English UK member centres, and since 2016 student numbers to the UK have been steadily increasing.
Shoko Doherty, CEO of Celtic English, described the market as 'harder to crack, but once you crack it you tend to have long lasting, fruitful relationships.'
Key market figures
- In 2018, globally, Japan was the third largest sending market for ELT, accounting for 936,381 student weeks. The UK's estimated share was 11%.
- In 2018, the UK was the fifth most popular destination for Japanese students studying English abroad, behind Australia, Canada, the USA and the Philippines.
- Ryugaku Journal, one of the largest Japanese study abroad agencies, reported applications for young learner programmes were up 17% for summer 2019. The highest in the 11-year history of their report.
- From a UK perspective, in 2019 Japan was the 6th biggest source market for English UK members (80,484 student weeks), an increase of 2% student weeks on 2018.
- The number of Japanese students attending UK-based private and state sector centres is on the increase, with total student numbers steadily rising since 2016.
- Trend of greater variety in preferred course length although, on average, students have opted for shorter stays.
- Compared to other source markets, Japanese students were more dispersed across the UK.
- Japan exhibits comparatively low levels of seasonality. From our QUIC 2019 student week data 36% of all Japanese student weeks were in the third quarter, with the remainder distributed fairly equally among the other quarters.
- In the short term, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) travel advisory update will affect study abroad decisions. From July 2020 travel to 146 countries, including the UK, is categorised 'Level 3' infectious disease risk, meaning Japanese citizens are advised against all travel.
English Language Market Report Japan 2020
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 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. The English Language Market Report Japan 2020, provides UK accredited English language centre owners, directors and marketing staff with a competitive advantage by providing a comprehensive understanding of the market and practical advice.
Topics covered include:
- Key factors behind the rising demand for English and how this may affect students' decision-making
- The UK as an ELT destination
- Evaluation of market development opportunities and barriers
- Recommendations on how to market the UK at individual, joint and governmental level
Webinar recording: Preparing for recovery: Japan as a source market for UK ELT
Wednesday 5 August 2020 Jodie Gray, Patrik Pavlacic, Tatsu Hoshino, Shoko Doherty and Fraser Deas
In this webinar launching the English Language Market Report Japan 2020, Patrik Pavlacic from BONARD, shares a snapshot of the report's key findings.
As the majority of the research project was conducted prior to the global Covid-19 outbreak, a panel discussion and Q&A supplement the presentation. The panellists share their latest 'on the ground' insights including: the current level of restrictions in Japan; how, in the short-term, the pandemic is changing the behaviour of the market; and its impact on student decision-making and in confidence to travel.
Understand more about Japanese culture
Relationships are at the heart of business and it is important to know how to communicate with Japanese agents. We asked Shoko Doherty and Tatsu Hoshino for their top cultural tips.
- When greeting an agent, it is important to bow. Shoko, who grew up in Japan, suggests avoiding using an agent's first name unless they use yours. Instead, use their surname with the suffix '-san'.
- It is also common that gifts are given at meetings, but these are not often opened in front of the giver unless it is suggested that you do.
- Japanese people are usually unwilling to say 'no', which means you will need to discuss a situation from different angles to ensure that a particular decision has been made.
- Tatsu advised: "Don't talk straight forwardly too much. Don't rush things. You need build a good relationship first; find out a key person and try to get connected with them."
Despite increased interest in the UK, it is important to remain patient when expecting students to study at your centre. Shoko explained: "Don't expect to get your first student after you've visited the agent once. They might want to visit you which is quite often difficult for Japanese agents.
"I find that when I start a relationship with a new agent they send one student, almost like a test."
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