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Issues and challenges: competition

September 14, 2007

Hello again,

I raised concerns about teacher training earlier this week. Now I want to consider the competition among Anglophone countries to attract students for English...

... and university courses.

Commenting in Newsweek recently, William Underhill said: “Today's international students don't automatically head to the United States or the United Kingdom; they consider a slew of factors, from cost to climate, before making their pick. Already, Britain is starting to suffer as it finds itself in a fierce three-way contest for market share.”

Some countries, such as Australia, are capitalizing on these factors by offering grants and fee discounts to overseas students. And, needless to say, the UK can never compete with Australia on climate.

Cost and climate are not the only factors affecting choice. Take the visa problem. Both the USA and Britain have become much more cautious about allocating student visas since the terrorist threats sparked off after 9/11. Geographical location is significant. With countries like Singapore and Malaysia offering Anglophone education, the vast Chinese market might just be tempted to take what is on offer closer to home rather than make the trip to the UK or the USA.

Should we also raise the issue of quality? Graduate students registering in British universities for higher degrees often feel unsupported and adrift in a system that values independent learning styles. With high fees and little face-to-face tuition, some students must wonder what exactly they are paying for.

Even if English, as seems likely, continues to enjoy a growing currency as the language of international business and science, the providers of language training and Anglophone education are becoming more diverse. Competition and how to respond to it is one of the key challenges for the future.

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  1. Kaytan Shah Says:

    While I think she makes good points on these issues as to why international students are a bit apprehensive to come to the U.S. and/or Britain, I believe there are some other pertinent perspectives to look at.

    First of all, due to our foreign policy and our quickness to drop bombs and then condemn others who are trying to develop bombs, our hypocrisy stand just makes us easier to hate. Working in an inner-city high school, it's funny how I most always see the bully have his day. It's amazingly parallel as to how our gov't acts in a similar way.

    International students have serious doubts as to whether we are the land of opportunity anymore. Being college students who have questions and are looking to find their way in this world, are reluctant to come to a country so quick to demolish and destroy human beings and then condemn countries who are violating human rights.

    There comes a point where you have to stop looking to conquer the world and fix the problems at home. America is burning, but we still go thousands of miles away to fight for freedom. Meanwhile, our inner cities are getting worse and worse. There are massive attacks of terrorism in each and every city in America when it comes to homicides, murder, corporate greed, etc., that affects many Americans daily.

    These international students know that America is a violent place and our enemies are growing at an alarming rate. These students are looking for safety first as any human would. And sadly to say, America is losing its luster as that beacon of light to immigrants.

  1. Kelly Says:

    The university where I teach is actually experiencing just the opposite effect. We've had a huge increase in our ESL enrollment (especially from many Asia countries) that our department feels is largely due to the decreased value in the US dollar and the high quality education that students can receive here, as opposed to other locations.

    Furthermore, I think that the majority of people still look at the US and UK and Australia as speaking the more desired "standard" dialects of English. True, Australia may be luring some potential students away from the US/UK, but I don't believe that English dialects in Malaysia or Singapore are yet posing a serious threat to ESL enrollment in the US/UK.

  1. Terry C. Taft Says:

    Kaytan Shah,

    You said it well and very clearly. People are sick and tired of the United States and everything it has come to represent, particularly in the past 7 years. Politics aside, I still have respect and admiration for the American people and count a number of them as good and valued friends. Perhaps in a few years, with the current administration and attitudes well behind us, American will resume her role as the land of opportunity, freedom and destination of choice.

    God save America!

    T. Taft

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