Elodie Journet, Senior Trade Commissioner in Manila speaks to the challenges for Australian education providers and opportunities in market. This article shares headline findings to assist in planning strategies for the Philippines and Micronesia.
1) What are the key opportunities for Australian education organisations in the Philippines?
When it comes to education, opportunities sit across three areas. The first being a focus on student recruitment. There is great appetite for Filipino students to study in Australia. A recent change in the Philippines moved education in schools from K-10, to now educating K-12. This first batch of graduates from Year 12 have finalised their studies, and we are proud to say that we had a 35 per cent increase of Filipino students going to study in Australia.
A second opportunity is in transnational education for the market. With growth the market is experiencing, institutions are starting to see appetite for changing the currently available curriculum in the Philippines. We have about 30 Australian and Philippines providers partnering for the delivery of Australian qualifications in the Philippines. What we are seeing is a growing appetite into new areas, moving from the traditional focus areas of aged care, business, management and engineering to now seeing data analytics, big data and cybersecurity. This is because the Philippine economy is digitalising and wanting to get the workforce to be equipped with the right skillsets.
Another trend is that we are starting to look beyond Manila. Manila is still very important, with over 25 million people, but in the whole of the country there are 108 million people. A market with a median age of 24, there are other pockets outside of Manila, such as Cebu and Clark. We are keen to work with you to access these pockets of opportunities.
2) What are the main challenges for Australian education organisations when operating in your market?
The Philippines is a growing market, and the UK, US and Canada are behaving quite aggressively. They are bringing fairs and academics to market, to showcase the expertise that each respective market has. What we are seeing is that there is sometimes a lack of understanding of Australian offerings, so bringing academics to the Philippines and doing teaser module sessions for prospective students is a great way to get a sense of what studying in Australia will look like and what the international education will give them. This is interesting as it demonstrates a new method for recruitment in-market — connecting students, parents and academics.
A second aspect is that the Philippines is still a price sensitive market, which is something to consider in Australian university offerings, especially if there are opportunities to extend scholarships to Philippines students. The Australia Awards under the Australian Government continues to be an avenue for Filipino students to study in Australia. They do welcome university and education providers to offer scholarships directly to students as well.
3) What is Austrade doing to support International Education?
We hold an annual roadshow in Manila and Cebu to showcase the types of study offerings and engage with the Philippines Government. Study tours are also a popular activity, with Austrade taking students and counsellors to Australia to show them what studying in Australia is like.
An initiative we have been working on is focussing on digital. The Philippines is one of the largest consumers of social media — spending on average five to six hours per day on Facebook. Austrade recognises that this is a really valuable platform for us to promote Australian education. Following Austrade’s recent PAN-ASEAN campaign, we would encourage insituttions to consider use social media to showcase your institution.
The last thing to note is that Manila is the headquarters for the Asian Development Bank, which provides Official Development Assistance to 67 developing member countries. This is a great opportunity for universities and institutions that have specialised sectoral expertise wo work with the bank on ramping its internal knowledge as well as beign part of aid-funded projects.