LAHORE: Acclaimed Pakistani education consultant and career counsellor, Syed Abidi, gave a detailed presentation on “Student Market Landscape—South Asia” at an international higher education workshop held in Seville, Spain, the other day.
The session attracted around 200 participants from different countries of the world. In his presentation, Syed Abidi discussed in detail market potential with education providers vis-à-vis international mobility of students from key South Asian countries, including Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. He talked about changing student mobility landscape and emerging patterns because of local and global factors.
Syed Abidi informed the education providers about the emerging patterns vis-à-vis outbound student mobility saying the same was being governed by geo-political, socio-economic and international security conditions. He talked about changes in visa regime, price-hike and affordability capacities of the students. He observed that because of stricter visa and academic regulations, there was a shift vis-à-vis United Kingdom being a favourite international education destination for students from South Asia.
A recipient of Tamgha-e-Imtiaz — a coveted civil award, Syed Abidi said the number of students from India pursuing higher education abroad was now equal to students from China exploring international study destinations. He said India was the biggest market for international education providers and added in fact India had emerged as the biggest market for OECD countries in 2014.
According to him, India was the second largest country in the world in terms of enrolment in higher education while the country was the largest in terms of availability of higher education institutions. He said India had significant outbound student mobility and a limited inbound mobility. He said by 2030, India would also have one of the youngest populations in the world (median age of 32 years).
Syed Abidi further said Pakistan was the world’s 6th most populous nation and was predicted to grow nearly 300 million by 2050. He added 2/3 of the population was under the age of 25 making it a key emerging market. He said the number of Pakistani students dropped in UK for the first time in 29 years, when students enrolling at UK universities decreased to almost 50 percent in 2014 and added mostly they were PG students. He said post-9/11 the numbers of Pakistani students declined from a peak of 8,644 students in the US to 6,141 students in 2016. He said today top five destinations Pakistani students apply to were now Germany, Canada, Australia, Austria and Sweden. He also discussed in details the country’s education system.
Syed Abidi, who has represented Pakistan in over 100 national and international seminars, conferences and fora, went on to say that there was a change in pattern in Pakistan too vis-à-vis outbound student mobility and new favourite destinations were European Union,
Australia while the UK had once again started attracting Pakistani students because of Pound rates. He also talked about growing GDP of Pakistan and emerging opportunities within the country because of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).