The recruitment of international students has become a lucrative business in countries like the US, the UK and Australia. In the UK they are estimated to bring in about 4 billion pounds a year to British universities and some 10 billion to the economy as a whole. With the aging of the population, the UK is worried about the (financial) future of its universities. Non EU international students can be charged higher fees and are therefore seen as a potential solution to these financial problems.

There are now over 300,000 foreign students demand from international students stagnated in 2005, rising just 0.3% compared to the year before. This can be partly attributed to increased global competition but also to the growth of the higher education systems in China and India. Due to these factors the projected amount of international students (850,000 in 2020) has become a difficult target.

To remain competitive in the market, the UK needs to have a competitive advantage over other competitors. In a BBC article, Dr Tim Westlake, director of international development at Manchester University seems to agree:

“At present, the international student market is dominated by English-speaking countries. The global dominance of the English language has given the UK, the USA, and Australia a real competitive edge.”

But then the question becomes: how do these countries compete with each other? According to Dr Westlake, the unique selling points will have to be the quality of UK degrees and the quality of the student experience. And the unique selling points of the US and Australia? Apparently not quality but:

“…the sunshine and beaches of Australia and the low cost of living of the USA”

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