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World Trade In Education Services with Emphasis on New Zealand
Mar 22, 2003

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  • Almost two million students worldwide are involved in formal education outside their own country. Of these, about 1.5 million are studying in OECD countries. The worldwide market for education services is estimated to triple its size over the next 20 years. This is considerably faster than the growth rates observed over the previous 20 years when the market for education services doubled its size. This growth is driven by a range of factors, including the greater demand for linguistic skills and understanding of other countries as the ‘knowledge-based economy’ expands. Estimates by the Malaysian government indicate that the number of knowledge workers employed has increased at an average 16% since 1995. Estimates for OECD countries show that close to 30% of the workforce is highly skilled and employed in knowledge intensive jobs in advanced economies.

    The global market for foreign students is estimated at $30 billion, which represents roughly 3 % of the international trade in services in OECD countries. Most of the world trade in services takes place through commercial presence mode of service delivery, which means that students move to the country where education is supplied. The U.S. is by far the main exporter of education services, followed by other countries such as the UK, Italy and Canada. It is important to note that new entrants are arising such as Australia which is now among the top 8 world providers of education to foreigners, and New Zealand is making formidable progress following the implementation of a well design strategy to attract neighboring Asian students in the past five years.


    New information technologies are also changing the landscape of world trade in education. These new technologies are making possible the delivery of content in audio and visual formats inexpensively which has led to a surge in cross border education supply in electronic format. Only in the U.S. the electronic learning market is already worth over $8billion according to IDC estimates and growing at an average 98% over the past five years. Although most of the e-learning customers remain U.S. residents, the potential for world e-learning is formidable given that the costs of delivering e-learning services through the internet is about the same for a closely located U.S. resident and for a Malaysian resident in Kuala Lumpur once the information technology infrastructure is in place

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