Business of Education

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Darren (facing the camera) has been in the educational agency business for a long time. Basically, this involves gathering up high school students who seek to study overseas:

Selecting schools (all about the rankings). Filling out their applications. Providing tutoring for the IELTS or TOEFL English proficiency exams. Editing the personal statements. Preparing the bank statements and readying everything for the visa. It’s a full-service operation, and there are helicopter parents to please as well.

Darren is seeing an uptick in students applying to the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and a leveling off of the students applying to schools in the United States, in a relative sense. The UK is definitely gaining momentum on the US. The main reasons include that the US is no longer as attractive as it once was.

First, the tuition rates in the US are far higher than anywhere else. Exorbitant. Second, there is the perception, partly based on reality, that the Trump administration – and Trump’s America – is simply less welcoming to foreigners and that the visa situation is unpredictable. Third, even though the UK and Europe have seen its share of violent incidents (real/partly real/false), the US seems to have more violence on college campuses (real/partly real/false). Combined, those are powerful reasons.

To be sure, the surge in the size of China’s middle means that the raw, actual numbers of Chinese students in the US will continue to increase – but it will not increase relative to the numbers in the UK, Australia and NZ. Actually, many UK Master’s programs are now having to close their applications earlier, with earlier deadlines, because of the avalanche of applications from China.


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