Asian crisis hits overseas intake

December 11, 1998

The full impact of the Southeast Asia crisis on student recruitment overseas emerged this week, with figures showing a 13 per cent drop overall in new higher education intakes from abroad this year.

A survey conducted by the Education Counselling Service, the education promotions arm of the British Council, revealed big falls as expected in the number of students coming to Britain from Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, Singapore and Indonesia.

Numbers recruited from Malaysia, which, in 1996, accounted for about 30 per cent of all of Britain's overseas students, dropped by 44 per cent. Meanwhile numbers coming from Thailand were down by 29 per cent compared with last year, recruitment from Korea was down 23 per cent, Singapore 19 per cent, Indonesia 19 per cent, and 7 per cent from Hong Kong.

Further education was also hit, with numbers dropping by 50 per cent from Singapore, 48 per cent from Malaysia and 37 per cent from Korea.

Malaysian students are having so many problems covering the cost of coming to Britain because of currency problems that some British institutions are now setting up courses that can be taken entirely in Malaysia.

Allan Barnes, head of ECS, said the recruitment problems were "within expectations", but could worsen in the coming year. Other markets seen by the British Council as areas of potential growth, such as Brazil, India and Pakistan, also suffered setbacks.

The only market showing significant gains was China, where a big promotions drive for British education brought increases in recruitment of 6 per cent for higher education and 9 per cent for further education.

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