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Goodbye crystal ball: British Council’s new forecasting tool

The British Council has launched a new forecasting tool for UK universities, which produces annual predictions on international student demand for education. The online model is developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and will offer short- to mid-term country-specific predictions. To begin with, forecasts for China have been released and the initial findings demonstrate how the country’s rapid economic growth has created a large and growing potential market for international students. The model suggests that the household income at which parents can afford to pay for children studying abroad is USD 15,000. This middle income group (household income >USD 15,000) is set to treble in the near future. This may suggest that China is likely to continue to be a buoyant market.

The model also analyses the impact of tuition fees and the cost of living on demand for international education. Chinese students and parents appear to seek value for money and are price-sensitive across a ‘competitor set’ of countries (UK, USA, Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany, France and New Zealand). The model estimates that the demand for tertiary education in China will continue to rise until 2013. Although the projected enrolment ratio will keep increasing, a declining absolute number of young people of student age will result in a decline from there to 2015. The forecast data suggest that the nature of the UK’s HE relationship with China has to change to a greater emphasis on collaborative partnerships.

The British Council intends to add more countries to the forecasting tool. For more information on the online model, please email the British Council at:

British Council