Students from Mexico are increasingly looking to non-English speaking countries as study destinations, analysis from international student recruitment specialist BMI has indicated.
The 2022 BMI Mexico Market Report stated that before the pandemic Canada and Australia had experienced steady growth, with the US seeing a steady decline at undergraduate level and UK maintaining “fairly flat” enrolments since 2011. But institutions globally can still find recruitment opportunities in the Latin American country, it continued.
The report aims to help institutions “understand the strength of Mexico as an international education market and source of student recruitment”, in addition to identifying how the market is changing and where enrolment opportunities exist.
However, an “appetite for adventure and global curiosity”, along with influential factors such as affordability, employment opportunities during and after studies, and emigration pathways have encouraged Mexican students to look to alternatives to traditional destinations, it said.
The US, which “has always had a strong pull for Mexicans”, has seen declines over the past decade, the report noted. Since 2014, only five of 50 states had seen enrolment growth from Mexico: Alabama; Georgia; Idaho; Nevada; and Utah.
According to the National Association of Universities and Higher Education Institutions in Spanish, total university enrolment in the country has nearly doubled in the last 13 years.
In 2007/08, total higher education enrolment in Mexico was 2,528,664 and in 2020/21, enrolments reached 4,983,204 – a 97% increase.
“By combining Mexico’s population and economic data, universities can create a targeted list of states in which to concentrate their recruitment efforts,” BMI told The PIE.
“The country’s growing middle class and youth population give clear signs of increasing potential for international education.”
Independent organisations such as FUNED continue to provide scholarships and encourage mobility overseas, offering 110 postgraduate scholarships in 2020, BMI added.
“The country’s growing middle class and youth population give clear signs of increasing potential”
The paper detailed that doctorate degrees in the US and France have maintained steady growth since 2014, while Canada has had “steady” enrolment growth in both higher education and language sectors over the past decade.
“Australia has seen steady growth, mainly lead by its VET sector however its secondary school Mexican enrolments lag behind those of New Zealand and Ireland (much further behind than we’d expect),” the report read.
New Zealand’s English language sector is “the only one to have shown consistent growth in Mexican enrolments year on year”, it noted.
“Many Mexican students are looking to non-Spanish speaking countries as their study destination because it provides them with a well-rounded experience that includes language immersion and greater cultural differences,” BMI added.
“However, there is most certainly a group of Mexican students who pursue academic studies in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries such as Colombia and Argentina.”
The reasons for opting to study in Spanish-speaking countries range from language advantages, cultural familiarity, or geographic proximity.
China continues to “nip at the heels” of competitor destinations, the report added.
Compared with other countries in Latin America, Mexico has frequent exchanges with China in education, culture, sports and tourism, cooperating in over 10 fields, including e-commerce, tourism management, engineering and big data, BMI added. Approximately 60 Chinese companies, including Huawei and Didi, have set up offices in Mexico.
“In 2016/17 enrolments and scholarship programs to boost numbers higher China and Mexican government are continuing to provide significant support for students,” BMI noted.
Additionally, Mexicans appear to have a growing interest in French culture, language, history and society, the recruitment specialist highlighted.
“France is an attractive destination for the study of languages and humanities, these areas occupy the top field of study with 43.3%, followed by 30.7% science and sports studies and 14.1% economics and social administration.”