Carmen Neghina
8 years ago

Pathways global market worth more than US$1.4 billion


According to the latest report on the growing pathways programme market, conducted by Cambridge English Language Assessment and Studyportals, Asian students make up approximately half of the $1.4 billion pathway market and are the most prominent source market for the 2,200+ pathway programmes around the world.
The report will be released during the EAIE Annual Conference in Liverpool (13-16 September) and provides valuable insights into the global growth of pathway programmes – courses which give international students the language and academic skills required for university-level study, especially where English is the medium of instruction.
Routes to higher education: the global shape of pathway programmes examines 2,275 programmes – both pre-bachelors and pre-masters – representing an estimated 80% of programmes worldwide.

‘The USA, UK and Australia offer the majority of pathway programmes, delivered mainly on the university campus by an outsourced private tuition provider,’ comments report co-publisher Virgil Ierubino, of Cambridge English.

‘It also shows that most students originate from Asia, especially from China, typically follow a 12 month programme, and spend up to half their study time improving their English skills so they are ready for academic study.’

The report examines additional programme features, including fees and entry requirements, and highlights some of the key emerging trends: ‘We’re seeing a rise in the number of pathway courses delivered around the world, although the US is still an untapped market and very ripe for development,’ comments Carmen Neghina, Head of Intelligence at Studyportals.

‘We also predict major growth in pre-master pathway programmes, which currently only make up 20% of the sector, as well as a diversification of the models for offering pathway programmes, such as off-shore, or wholly owned private enterprise.’

The report also underlined the importance of careful selection and screening of potential pathway students, especially regarding language ability, to ensure they are able to acquire the skills they need for degree level study by the time they finish their programme.
Routes to higher education: the global shape of pathway programmes was published in September 2016, and is available to download for free from both Cambridge English and Studyportals.

Press Contact
Cambridge English | Stuart Giblin | +44 (0)1223 558407 |

Studyportals | Carmen Neghina | +31 655 875 270 |



Routes to higher education: the global shape of pathway programmes was compiled by:

Cambridge English Language Assessment: Over 5 million people take Cambridge English exams in more than 130 countries every year, with over 20,000 universities, employers, government ministries and other organisations relying on Cambridge English exams as proof of English language ability. Cambridge English is a department of the University of Cambridge and also undertakes, and shares, research on language assessment.

Studyportals: Studyportals is the international study choice platform, enabling students to find and compare their study options across borders. With over 117,000 published courses from over 2,450 participating universities and over 16 million visitors per year, Studyportals is a leading information source for study seekers.

The report builds on a 2015 study which looked only at pre-bachelor courses.

From the Report – Key Facts and Figures

  • The report analysed 2,275 pathway programmes, around 80% of all programmes globally (estimate).
  • Most pathway programmes are in Greater Europe (55%), followed by North America (30%) and Oceania (14%); North America offers the majority of specialised pre-masters programmes.
  • The global market for English medium pathway programmes is valued at an estimated $1.4bn.
  • The UK offers 50% of the world’s pathway programmes, but only 10% of international students attend university in the UK.
  • 65% of pre-bachelor, and 58% of pre-master pathway students plan to follow either business and management, social science, engineering, technology or humanities courses.
  • Typical pathway programmes last 12 months, but can range from four months to two years in some cases.
  • Most universities outsource their pathway programmes to one of six tuition providers which together deliver over 50% of all programmes worldwide.
  • IELTS, TOEFL, Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) and Cambridge English: First (FCE) are among the most popular English language qualifications offered by pre-bachelor pathway programmes.
  • Around half of pathway programmes guarantee students a place on a university course. In 55% of these cases, six or more university courses are available to the student on completion of the programme.

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