The Philippine unit of Australian-listed IDP Education Limited is bullish about the steady growth of the international Filipino students’ market as it opened its fourth office in the country to serve more Filipinos who want to study and live abroad or take an English language test.
IDP, the global leader in international education services, sees the number of international Filipino students growing an average of 10-13 percent annually over the next five years after rebounding from the pandemic.
One of the three largest in Southeast Asia today, the international Filipino students’ market will be driven mainly by those taking postgraduate studies.
IDP Philippines Country Director Jose Miguel Habana said that there is currently a “stronger and continued interest” among Filipinos to study abroad.
The country’s top education placement service provider estimates that there are now at least 49,000 Filipino overseas students.
The number of Filipino students abroad grew by more than 50 percent when compared to the last count of 22,709 made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization before the pandemic.
Habana added that the main motivation of Filipinos to study abroad is to pursue career opportunities based on the result of IDP’s “Emerging Futures” survey conducted last March.
IDP conducts bi-annual global surveys with students during various stages of their international education journey.
“A lot of countries at the moment have a big demand for skilled workers,” he said.
The study revealed that Australia and Canada are the top two country-destinations of Filipino overseas students for their quality of education and post-study work opportunities.
Habana said that these countries have also put together programs to attract international students and fill in the need for skilled workers.
“Because there was no migration during the pandemic, they had a big scarcity of skilled workers in the healthcare sector, engineering, and IT, among others, and it’s a massive need,” he said.
Habana said the best way to fill that gap is for these countries to accept international students who will study in their institutions, get adapted in their living conditions and find work and assimilate into their workforce.
The “Emerging Futures” survey also revealed that Canada is the top country to study in of seven out of ten Filipino students, or 70 percent.
Australia follows with 66 percent, while New Zealand ties with the U.S. at 45 percent.
Nearly four students out of ten or 38 percent chose Canada as their first-choice destination, while 25 percent ranked Australia as their first choice.
Number of Filipinos studying abroad doubled
According to IDP, the number of international Filipino students doubled this year due to the closure of borders during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.
IDP’s research listed the top six country-destinations, namely, Australia with 15,916 Filipinos students; Canada, 15,545; U.S., 5,284; United Kingdom, 2,640; Japan, 2,221; and New Zealand, 1,334.
IDP opened last November its combined education placement services office under its “Study Abroad” business and International English Language Testing System (IELTS) facility at The Enterprise Center in Makati City.
The local pioneer in international education services presently operates in Pasig, Cebu, and Baguio.
Habana said that IDP will open offices in at least four more major locations in the country, including Quezon City and Davao, in 2023 to make its services more accessible to students, parents, and other customers.
“We want to bring IDP’s services closer to our customers so we can guide them in their lifelong learning and career aspirations, whether they plan to study and work abroad or take the IELTS test,” Habana said.
As a co-owner of IELTS, the world’s most popular English-language test for work, study, and migration, IDP runs computer-delivered IELTS laboratories in Pampanga, Davao, and Bacolod. It also administers the paper-based IELTS test in 30 cities in the country.
IDP’s Makati office houses its seventh IELTS facility in the country.
IELTS is recognized by more than 10,000 organizations as a “reliable indicator of true-to-life ability to communicate in English” as it assesses a test taker’s proficiency in listening, reading, writing, and speaking.
It is the only language test recognized for migration in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK.
IDP opened IELTS laboratories in Pampanga, Baguio, Bacolod, and Davao this year.
Four IELTS laboratories will be put up in IDP’s future offices in Quezon City, Davao, Iloilo, and Batangas in 2023.
More Filipino workers needed
Besides their growing interest to pursue international studies, Filipinos are also drawn to the strong demand for overseas employment in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and Ireland.
Habana said some of these countries are promoting poststudy work rights in which international students can study and eventually work in their host countries.
“Some of them have a program all the way up to four or even five years of studies, which is a very attractive proposition for Filipinos,” he said.
Habana said that with the programs offered by Canada, Australia, and UK to attract skilled workers through the study pathway, Filipinos are able to stay and work in these countries after their studies.
He said what is also beneficial for Filipino students is that they can work while they are studying.
“This allows them to experience working in that environment even while attending school, which makes it much easier for them to transition once they graduate,” he said.
Habana said it is also much easier now for Filipinos to study and work abroad as IDP makes its global education services available in many parts of the country.
Besides opening new offices and IELTS test centers every year, IDP has also expanded the reach of its virtual services and continued to heavily invest in initiatives to improve customer service for both its IELTS and international education services.
As an IELTS co-owner, IDP is helping ensures that Filipinos fulfill their requirement for visa and job application in English-speaking countries.
“IDP acknowledges the value of having a physical space and face-to-face interaction with customers, even if our services are also available virtually. IDP’s goal has always been to combine human touch with technology to cater to our customers’ needs,” Habana said.
“We have the digital capabilities and the global footprint to not only identify new trends and patterns, but to act on them quickly for our customers and clients. We will be where we need to be in terms of expansion,” he explained.
Expansion means innovation
The Philippines is a key market for IDP’s global growth strategy with the consistently growing interest among Filipinos to study, work and migrate abroad, according to Habana.
Meanwhile, universities and colleges in Australia and Canada are also prioritizing the Philippines as a “VIP source market in driving higher quality and diversity of students.”
“With these considerations, we are looking at opening offices in at least six more cities across the country,” Habana said.
He added though that IDP’s expansion goes beyond opening physical offices as it implements innovations in its operations.
“Our investments in digital technology and customer research in recent years have enabled us to deliver global success to more students, test takers and our partners,” he said.
Habana said that with digital innovation, data science, research and insights, IDP is able to create solutions that “empower international Filipino students and test-takers to achieve their global goals faster and easier.”
IDP has operations in more than 50 countries while its websites attract 100 million visits a year.
Its global digital platform connects leading institutions, services, and alumni with prospective students.
IDP opened its first office in Pasig City in 1985, making it the local pioneer in the industry with 37 years of experience.
Habana said that IDP helps both students and parents to make the decision to move abroad by educating them on what is in store in the countries of their choice.
“We guide them in their choice of country, program, the right environment where they can thrive and the opportunities available to them after studying,” he said.
Habana said IDP’s “student-first” goal ensures that its highly trained counselors present what is in the best interest of the students.
“We are by our students’ side from the first course search until day one in the classroom, and beyond,” he said.
He said international education thrives when students are matched with the right country, the right course, and the right support system.
The Philippines is one of the first countries to open outside Australia, where it began playing a major role in international education and development in 1969, or 53 years ago.
IDP’s network of 150 offices in more than 30 countries employs 1,400 counselors across the world and has helped more than 650,000 students change their lives through global education.
IDP has partnered with more than 800 universities and institutions across Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK and U.S.