• | Brunei Darussalam

    Contact: Siti Mahmud
    Commercial and Prosperity Manager British High Commission Bandar Seri Begawan
    T: +673 2362251

    Click the drop-down arrow to the right for more information.

    According to World Bank data, Brunei is a high-income country with a population of 423,205 in 2015, and gross national income per capita of US$36,607.  With its large reserves of oil and gas, Brunei is the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia and the ninth-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world.

    To support the Brunei Vision to have a dynamic and sustainable economy by 2035 the country is diversifying beyond its Oil & Gas industry and aims to have an educated, highly skilled and accomplished Bruneian workforce.

    Significant reforms have been introduced to attract exported-oriented FDI in five priority sectors: Halal, Technology & Creative Industry, Business Services, Tourism and Downstream Oil and Gas. Brunei is also targeting growth in high-tech industry through investment in R&D.

    This influx of FDI projects in the manufacturing sector has created a skills gap.  Since 2013, the TVET sector has been undergoing a major transformation. The new Institute of Brunei Technical Education is focusing on the development of practical skills with a curriculum that is more relevant and more responsive to the country’s economic demands and is flexible enough to meet the requirements of industry and the community.

    Opportunities for UK Education & Training Providers

    Brunei Education System

    In 2014/2015 the Ministry of Education received the second largest government spend allocation, 13% of the total national budget worth BND$770 million. The government provides free education for all citizens and permanent residents at public schools. The literacy rate is over 95%, and the gross enrolment rates both at primary and secondary levels are 100%.

    The education system has been reformed steadily in line with the National Education System for the 21st Century which has targeted mathematics, science, English and ICT as key subjects in the primary and secondary school curriculum.  The UK has a long history of educational partnership with Brunei, with around 2,000 Bruneian students studying in the UK per annum.

    The UK accounts for 80% of the government’s awarded scholarships (Undergraduate and Master studies).  Many of the Bruneians parents that were educated in the UK education are also choosing to send their children to study in the UK. The Education Loan Facility Scheme provides loans to Bruneian students who choose to study for their first degree overseas.


    The tertiary enrolment rate in Brunei is only 19.6% which the Ministry of Education aims to increase to 35% by 2020. The government is investing in providing multiple pathways for students to pursue higher education and vocational training as well as continuing education training for adults.

    The Minister of Education recently announced five strategic plans: quality of teachers; quality of schools and educational institutions; student achievement and success; participation in education; and quality of post-secondary education.

    The Ministry also has plans to improve professional development and quality leadership of teachers at every level. This represents opportunities for UK companies to provide teacher training especially in STEM subjects, teaching and learning methodologies that foster creativity, education technology, as well as administration, budget management and leadership skills for school heads.

    Technical and Vocational Education & Training

    There has been a great push for TVET education in Brunei to support industries’ needs, triggered by the recent significant growth of FDI projects mainly from China. The Ministry of Education in close collaboration with the Energy and Industry staff at the Prime Minister’s Office has revamped the technical education system as a choice post-secondary education capable of producing a highly skilled workforce in line with the needs of industry.

    TVET opportunities exist in training, programming, resourcing and accreditation to support Brunei’s Energy sector. There are also business opportunities to help Brunei develop its in-country education provision and increase local training capacity and research collaboration, particularly in the fields of energy, biodiversity, agro-technology, food security, Islamic finance and Asian studies.

    To ensure Brunei can produce appropriate and adequate training facilities will also require up to date infrastructure and logistics, creating another significant opportunity for UK service providers.

    Research and Development

    The Government has established the Brunei Research Council (BRC) to promote and encourage research which will contribute to the country’s national development. The fund has been allocated BND200 million under the 10th National Development Plan 2012-2017.

    The fund aims to encourage R&D and innovation to support national development efforts towards realising ‘Brunei Vision 2035’ and beyond. BRC aims to encourage research in all fields and subjects with a particular focus on (i) Science, Technology and Engineering, (ii) Social Science and (iii) Arts and Culture.

  • | Burma

    Contact: Kyaw Kyaw Myat Monn
    Trade & Investment Manager
    British Embassy Burma
    T: + 95 92500 60582

    Click the drop-down arrow to the right for more information.

    To lift the country out of poverty, Burma’s newly elected National League for Democracy (NLD) has put education at the heart of its reform agenda. Burma is an emerging economy with a nominal GDP of US$66.324 billion dollars in 2016 and an estimated purchasing power adjusted GDP of US$334.85 billion dollars in 2017.

    It has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a growing middle class.  The Burmese government plans to build a 21st-century education system to help the country become an upper-middle-income nation by 2030.

    Major objectives of Burma’s new National Education Strategic plan include: the redesign and launch of a new basic education curriculum; to develop a world-class higher education system; to expand and strengthen the quality of technical and vocational and training; and to have a Quality Assurance System that will help achieve national quality standards and improve both teaching and learning.

    Opportunities for UK Education & Training Providers

    Curriculum Development

    Burma’s basic education curriculum is badly in need of a complete review and to be strengthened and focused on delivering students with the skills and knowledge required in the 21st century and to support teachers to provide students with the required teaching and training.  The Government with the support of international donors has made the redesign and launch of a new curriculum a strategic priority.

    Higher Education

    The democratically elected NLD government began the reform of Burma’s education system and especially Higher Education when they came into power in 2011.

    There are now 163 public higher education facilities in Burma operated under 13 ministries, with the majority located in Mandalay, Rangon and Shan State. There’s between 350-800 private providers, including large training institutes and small-scale organisations operated by national and international providers.

    The most common courses are languages, ICT and business.  Historically the private sector market was dominated by the UK and Singapore institutions, but recently the US, Australia, New Zealand, France, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka have been exploring the market and are setting up collaborations with local partners.

    The main opportunities for Higher Education in Burma are business courses, online distance learning courses, English language teaching, ICT and entrepreneurialism.

    Quality Assurance 

    Students currently graduating from Burma’s higher education system are not performing effectively in their chosen professions: engineers, doctors, public servants, secondary school teachers etc. because of the inferior quality of their education in comparison to their neighbours.

    To support the transformation of the Burmese economy, the government, therefore, plans to introduce a good regulatory framework and quality assurance system into its Higher Education system in order to raise the quality of the country’s future graduates.

    Technical and Vocational Education & Training

    Burma has the advantage of a large workforce of over 53 million people, of which 40% are between the ages of 15-29.  However, as Burma’s economy opens up and new jobs are being created, unemployment is still around 4% and youth unemployment is 11.5%.

    This is because new sectors are demanding new skills currently not being taught in the education system, creating a skills gap.  Burma is committed to up-skilling its workforce to sustain economic growth.

    This has created TVET opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and hospitality, infrastructure and energy sectors, which account for an estimated 85% of Burma’s economic growth potential.  ICT and entrepreneurialism are two further core skill sets in high demand, as well as training and qualification services for healthcare workers and teachers.

  • | Cambodia

    Contact: Romdoul May
    Head of DIT Cambodia
    British Embassy Phnom Penh, Cambodia
    T: +85523 427 124 (Ext 2203)

    Click the drop-down arrow to the right for more information.

    Cambodia recently attained lower middle-income status and its GDP growth is a steady 7%.  Cambodia’s population is 16 million with more than half its people under the age of 25 years.

    Cambodia’s membership in the ASEAN Economic Community is driving a step change in the country’s education system.  The government recognises the urgent need for human resource development and a future skilled workforce to support the country’s future economic growth.

    In 2017 the Government allocated US$677 million (over 3% of GDP) of its budget to education, that is expected to increase to over US$700 million in 2018.

    The Education Strategic Plan 2014-18 covers reforms from primary to tertiary education including curriculum development, teacher training, STEM, quality improvement, and educational infrastructure.  This addresses the Government’s immediate focus on improving the quality of its education and increasing access to education and vocational training opportunities.

    You can read a full sector assessment here.

    Opportunities for UK Education & Training Providers

    Curriculum Development & STEM subjects

    The Ministry of Education has committed US$1 million to its New Generation School initiative that focuses on strengthening learning in STEM subjects.  A five-year programme is being created to integrate arts and culture into public schools to help Cambodians develop a better understanding of their roots and creative ability to take on global challenges.

    Entrepreneurship and gender-related subjects are other subjects being introduced into the national curriculum. To promote financial literacy the National Bank of Cambodia and the Ministry has launched the “Let’s Talk Money” comic book for children at primary and secondary level.

    Teacher Training

    The need for more qualified teachers alongside curriculum development is at the heart of the Ministry’s Strategic Education Plan. In addition to increasing the numbers of professionals entering a teaching career, the Ministry is aiming to increase the knowledge and skills for teachers, with a focus on STEM subjects. Reforms include improved in-service training and a staff performance appraisal system.


    Cambodia has nearly 3.25 million school students up to secondary school level.  Against a low-quality public school sector back-drop, Cambodia’s growing middle class is looking to provide their children with quality private education.  Franchisee opportunities with local partners are abundant from kindergarten through to high school, as Cambodia has a limited number of internationally certified and accredited private schools and qualified teachers.

    English Language Training & Vocational English

    English has overtaken French as the first choice for Cambodian students studying a foreign language for a number of reasons. English is now the language of business in Cambodia, university courses are predominantly taught in English, the number of students looking to study in the UK and abroad is increasing year on year and FDI has driven the need for English language skills.

    English teaching at schools is limited and parents are prepared to invest a premium in private ELT.  The British Council nor any recognised British provider is currently operating in the market.

    Educational technology

    The Ministry has launched an ICT in education policy focussed in four main areas: provision of ICT for teachers and students, especially at secondary level; the role and function of ICT in education as a teaching and learning tool in different subjects, and as a core subject; to promote education for all through ICT enabled distance education and self-learning and to promote the use of ICT to increase the effectiveness of education management.


    Cambodia is in urgent need of a properly functioning system for TVET’s 237 TVET institutions.  The government is creating a vocational ‘bridge’ programme to enable students without high school degrees to have access to trade-based, university-level coursework in order to up-skill workers and support the country’s growing industrial and light manufacturing sectors.

    Tourism is a key economic pillar and the Ministry of Tourism plans to build two vocational training centres in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. The first Academy of Culinary Arts opened recently in Cambodia providing students with an international hospitality curriculum from the Swiss Hotel Management Academy Lucerne in alignment with ASEAN standards.

    Private sector investment is on the rise, with a focus on ‘soft’ skills training and industry-based training. One of the country’s biggest banks ACLEDA recently opened up its own training institute in banking where a projected 3,000 students annually will receive industry-based training.

    Opportunities exist in the development of a national framework and strategy, curriculum, accreditation system and qualifications development.

    Aid-Funded Business

    Cambodia is a major source of donor funding and loan provision from the ADB and other bilateral and multilateral donors, particularly in the education sector. In October 2016 the ADB approved a US$45 million loan for Cambodia to overhaul and improve the quality of its upper secondary education with a focus on improving its education infrastructure, STEM subjects and teacher training.

    Similarly, in 2014 the ADB extended a US$30 million loan for a nationwide programme to raise the quality of TVET in Cambodia, whilst the government will provide cash and in-kind contributions totalling US$2.6 million. The full programme will run for five years and is expected to be completed in 2019. The Ministry in collaboration with UNESCO and the Sipar Foundation has unveiled plans to expand a literacy programme for garment factory workers to tackle adult illiteracy.

  • | Indonesia

    Contact: British Embassy Jakarta
    T: +62 21 2356 5200

    Click the drop-down arrow to the right for more information.

    Indonesia has a GDP of US$932.36 billion and is the largest economy in Southeast Asia. Indonesia’s real GDP growth is projected to increase from 5% in 2016 to 5.1% in 2017 and estimated to further strengthen to 5.3% in 2018. Indonesia is predicted to become the world’s 5th largest economy by 2030.

    The country has a population of 258.7 (2017) million people, a young workforce with 45% of the population below 28 years and a middle class comprising 88 million people which are expected to reach 141 million by 2020. With 40% Internet penetration (100 million users) nationwide, 65% of the population is made up of young and tech-savvy post-generation X individuals.

    President Joko Widodo’s pledge to simplify the business environment and stimulate economic activity has delivered results. In the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business survey, Indonesia jumped 15 places from 106th in 2016 to 91st in 2017.

    For a presentation on Indonesia and education opportunities there, please click here.

    Opportunities for UK Education & Training Providers

    Indonesian Education System

    Indonesia is the third largest education system in the Asian region and the fourth largest in the world with over 60 million students and almost 4 million teachers in 340,000 education institutions.

    The quality of Indonesia’s education system is poor despite a government commitment to spend 20% of the national budget (IDR 416. 7 trillion), the majority going into basic education and teachers salary nationwide in 2017.  PISA statistics for 2015 ranked Indonesia 62nd from 70 in mathematics, English language and science achievement for 15-year-olds. Indonesian universities are not ranked in the world’s top 400.

    Higher Education

    There are close to 6 million Indonesian students in higher education in 2017 with a predicted 7.8 million by 2020. There is growing engagement from UK higher education providers recognising Indonesia’s market potential. However, entering the market is not always easy.

    Government policy, driven by protectionism, does not allow foreign universities to set up branch campuses and education providers have to operate on a not-for-dividend basis.

    It is, however, possible to set up dual/joint degrees and credit transfer schemes with Indonesian universities. A number of British universities including Coventry, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle have done this successfully. Indonesian universities are also conscious of the need to raise their quality and see UK universities as appropriate R&D partners which many UK universities are pursuing.

    Affluent Indonesians often send their children to school and university overseas. 55,000 Indonesian students travelled abroad for their education in 2016 according to the Indonesian Central Bureau of Statistics. Of this group, nearly 3,000 Indonesians travelled to the UK on Tier 4 student visas while 10,000 students chose to study in Australia and 9,000 in the US.

    The number of Indonesian students going to the UK to study is growing at around 20% each year. The Indonesian Government provides thousands of grants annually at postgraduate level through its scholarship body, Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education – LPDP. The UK has more universities on the LPDP approved list than any other country except the US and wins around a third of the LPDP overseas scholarships.

    Continuous Professional Development

    President Joko Widodo’s focus on education means that ministries have targets to professionalise their workforce. Coventry University has recently won groundbreaking deals with the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education to provide PhD training for lecturers and researchers in State universities and Islamic higher education institutions.

    This was achieved through regular and consistent engagement with Indonesian universities, the ministries, civil society and strong local representation.

    R&D Collaboration

    The UK Newton Programme has an allocation of £18 million up to 2021.  To date, twenty-one research partnerships have been agreed with a total value of £4.2 million. Increasing numbers of UK researchers are exploring collaborations and greater research mobility with the best Indonesian universities.


    TVET is a key priority for Indonesia, as President Joko Widodo expressed the need to invest in vocational training as the government plans to produce an extra 130 million skilled workers by 2025. There are significant opportunities for UK commercial solutions to meet Indonesia’s requirements to build capacity, improve curriculum and develop industry links.


    There is strong interest in the UK’s English Language Training programmes and to integrate the English language as part of the national schools’ curriculum in Indonesia. Cambridge University Press and Cambridge English Language Assessments have had success in several Indonesian provinces and the incoming Governor of Jakarta has indicated an interest in English language collaboration with British education providers.

  • | Laos

    Contact: Dr Nils Koenig
    Public Diplomacy & Policy Officer
    British Embassy Lao PDR
    T: +856 30 770 0005

    Click the drop-down arrow to the right for more information.

    With a GDP of US$12.4 billion in 2015, Laos is the smallest economy in Southeast Asia, but it has the fastest growing economy with average annual GDP growth of 8% over the last 10 years.   Laos has improved access to electricity, schools and roads, and has become an important energy exporter.

    The Lao economy is projected to expand at around 7% in 2017-19, supported by a healthy pipeline of power projects and growth in opportunities resulting from closer ASEAN integration.

    The investment environment and the context for doing business in Laos are gradually improving and there are many British businesses successfully expanding into Laos. The country is on track to leave Least Developed Country status by 2020.

    There is no significant history of education in Laos, with the National University of Laos the first ever university in Laos only established 25 years ago. The government has made education its key political priority to tap the full potential of having the youngest population in the region (average age 23 years) and second youngest in Asia.

    The government is working with development partners to improve education at all levels from primary care to higher education and technical and vocational education.

    The government has pledged to make English the second language of the country, ambitiously following Singapore’s model.  The impressive growth of the education sector in Laos is however coupled with a few institutional challenges, for example, the Laos Ministry of Education aims to manage and control the development of the sector.

    Opportunities for UK Education & Training Providers

    There’s fast-growing demand for education services in Laos with opportunities in the private and development sectors.  US$80 million of overseas development aid is spent on education per year.

    Higher Education

    Laos is keen to develop its universities. Currently, there are 36,000 students at the four Universities (Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Pakse and Savanakhet). The government is expanding the universities’ capacities to total 45,000 students by 2020. There is also a range of public and private colleges.

    The government supports the establishment of private higher education colleges and universities. The licensing process can be bureaucratic and time-consuming, however, the Ministry of Education has pledged to facilitate the opening of the first international university until 2020, and the British Embassy can facilitate contacts and negotiations with the relevant authorities.

    The existing universities are also open for research and teaching partnerships with overseas universities. Aston University has a wide ranging Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National University of Laos to cooperate on various areas of research as well as university capacity development.  This MoU allows Aston University to approach development partners and Lao authorities for funding.

    English Language Training

    The ELT market is one of the most attractive segments of the education sector in Laos. There is sizeable demand in both the private and the public sector for the training of staff and civil servants, plus high demand for professional translator training.

    At the moment there is only one significant established commercial ELT provider, the Australian-funded Vientiane College.  This college provides various types of training to students, businesses and the government and is the only International English language testing system (IELTS) testing centre in Laos. Around a dozen small-scale English schools exist alongside centres run by the Australian, the US, and the French embassies, which all offer English courses.

    The government is trying to improve the curriculum for English teaching in schools and the qualifications of English teachers throughout the country. English teacher training and qualification services are therefore an important and promising niche sector in the market, as the government needs partners to implement curriculum development and training.

    Education Technology

    Equipment and teaching methods at all levels of the Lao education sector are extremely outdated. With a growing number of universities, colleges and language schools, the demand for contemporary and innovative education technology is growing.

    Significant opportunities exist in direct business with providers as well as in Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) projects aimed at upgrading skills and equipment.

    Technical and Vocational Education & Training

    TVET is another growth education sector in Laos. The government is continuously stressing the importance of TVET and technical skills upgrading and is receiving assistance from the European Union (EU) countries to upgrade this sector.

    Enrolment in vocational schools is projected to grow from 34,500 in 2016 to 51,000 in 2020. Areas that see the biggest need for TVET offers are technical professions such as mechanics, engineering, and construction for the booming hydropower industry, as well as service professions for the quickly growing tourism industry.

  • | Malaysia

    Contact: Siva Somasundram
    Senior Trade Manager & ASEAN Regional Lead Education & Training
    British High Commission, Kuala Lumpur
    T: +603 2170 2223

    Click the drop-down arrow to the right for more information.

    Malaysia is on track to achieve its goal to become a high-income nation by 2020. The Malaysian economy was US$298 billion in 2016 and GDP growth averaged 5% over the last five years. Thanks to the country’s Economic Transformation Plan (ETP) the economy is forecast to reach US$350 billion by 2020. Education is one of 12 National Key Economic Areas in the ETP.

    Malaysia’s rapid development, political and social stability, ease of doing business, familiar legal and financial framework coupled with its close historical and educational ties with the UK, widespread use of English and liberalised education sector make the country a very attractive market for British education providers. It is estimated sales of British products and services linked to education and training are worth over £280 million a year.

    For a presentation on Malaysia and education opportunities there, please click here.

    Opportunities for UK Education & Training Providers

    Transnational, Higher & Further Education

    Malaysia is fast becoming an ‘Educational Hub’ of the ASEAN region with a thriving TNE sector. There are currently 113,752 (Dec 2015) overseas students from over 100 countries studying in Malaysia and the country is on track to achieve its target of 200,000 overseas students by 2020. 78,565 students are studying for UK qualifications in Malaysia, including in the five UK university branch campuses based in Malaysia (no.1 in the world). The Malaysian UK TNE market is worth around £895 million a year. There are a further 17,631 Malaysian students studying in the UK, fourth highest in the world. The number of Malaysian and international students in Malaysia studying UK programmes totals 96,196.

    The higher education sector is forecast to continue to grow. The Malaysian government target by 2020 is for 40% of the nation’s population to have a tertiary education. Under Vision 2020, 60% of future graduates will be from science and 40% from arts.

    R&D Collaboration in Higher Education & Industry

    An R&D budget of £55 million has been allocated to Malaysia’s five leading universities to develop R&D links with the world’s leading higher education institutions and industry. The Newton-Ungku Omar Fund set up by the UK and Malaysia will fund R&D projects focused on climate change and sustainable urbanisation. The UK will invest £35 million in the Fund between 2014 and 2021.


    Public and private funded educational institutions co-exist in the education system. Malaysia has more than 30 British international schools including Epsom College, Marlborough College and the soon to be opened King Henry VIII College. Malaysia has 5.48 million pupils, 400,000 teachers and 10,132 schools in the public sector.

    In September 2012, the Malaysian Prime Minister launched the National Pre-School to Secondary Education Blueprint which will be implemented in three stages over the course of 13 years (2013-2025). The blueprint highlighted nine priority areas: teachers, school leaders, school quality, curriculum and evaluation, multilingual proficiency, post-school opportunities, the role of parents and community, the efficacy resources and information sharing, and the administrative structure of the Education Ministry.

    Opportunities for UK companies include teacher training especially in STEM subjects, ELT, teaching and learning methodologies that foster creativity, education technology, as well as administration, budget management and leadership skills for school heads.

    Scaling Up  Pre-School Childcare and Early Years

    Pre-School Childcare and Early Years is a significant new growth education sector in Malaysia because of changes in Malaysian Government policy and increased household spending. Pre-school education is now part of the national education system, with childcare enrolment (0-4 years) forecast to reach 25% by 2020.

    Around 93% of early childcare and education (ECCE) teachers currently do not possess any formal qualifications, so the Malaysian government is focusing on training and certification for these ECCE teachers.

    Technical and Vocational Education & Training

    TVET is another growth education sector in Malaysia. The Malaysian Prime Minister has stressed the importance of TVET, skills training and apprenticeships and is looking at models in EU countries to improve the Malaysian offer.  Currently, only 10% of Malaysian students are enrolled in local TVET institutions.

    The Government plans to raise this to 20% over the next five years. Under the Government’s ETP a clearer education pathway has been set, so TVET institutions can offer diploma and higher diploma courses to ease the students’ path to university.  TVET will shift towards industry-led programmes to produce the skilled talent to meet industry needs.

    Lifelong Learning and Continuing Professional Development

    The National Advisory Council for Education and Training have formulated a comprehensive plan for lifelong learning programmes, which covers distance learning, part-time courses, e-learning and skills upgrading. The enrolment of students in lifelong learning programmes will be increased by 10%.

    Specialist Education Sectors

    The Malaysian Government is also focusing on improving education provision in Islamic finance and business, healthcare and games development.

  • | Philippines

    Contact: Emma Leister
    Senior Trade & Investment Manager
    British Embassy Manila
    T: +632 8582264

    Click the drop-down arrow to the right for more information.

    The Philippines has one of the fastest growing economies in the Asia Pacific region worth about US$292 billion in 2015.  The IMF predicts the economy will maintain 6-7% growth in the near term, thanks to its 100 million population, which is 45% urbanised and 50% aged 24 or under.  The Philippines has the second biggest population in ASEAN that is forecast to grow to 142 million by 2045.

    The Philippines Government is opening up and increasing spending in its education sector while at the same time Philippine households are spending a significant proportion of their disposable income on education.  The Philippines, therefore, has a growing ‘affordable private education’ sector.  The medium of instruction in the Philippines is largely English and has one of the lowest tax rates in ASEAN for educational institutions.  This combination of factors offers excellent business opportunities in The Philippines for UK education companies.

    In 2015 The Philippine education sector received the highest government annual budget allocation, which was US$8 billion.  The education budget is projected to grow given the administration’s focus on developing its human capital and in 2018 the budget for public schools has been set to be around £10.5 billion.

    Latest statistics show that there is a total of 28 million students enrolled annually, composed of 2.2 million pre-school students; 14.5 million elementary students; 7.3 million secondary students; and 3.8 million tertiary students. The majority of higher education institutions are privately run and there are about 650,000 higher education graduates annually.  Partnerships with private institutions to deliver basic education were allotted £485 million under the Government Assistance for Students and Teachers in Private Education programme.

    Opportunities for UK Education & Training Providers

    Transnational Education

    The largest opportunity for the UK in the education sector in the Philippines is in higher education, particularly partnerships between UK universities and Philippine universities. The British Embassy and British Council have been encouraging the Philippine Government to open the market to foreign education providers to improve the quality of education provision.

    This led to a project called TNE Links Programme, creating exemplars of Philippine-UK university partnerships that are committed to producing tailor-made, niche degree courses that satisfy national demands and cater to the regional market.

    Through partnerships of 10 Philippine universities and 9 UK universities, 17 joint or dual postgraduate degrees are currently being designed in creative media technology, robotics engineering, data engineering, sports science, food systems, disaster risk and reduction, oceanography, public health, meteorology, engineering and architecture.

    The collaborative TNE project is regarded as a model initiative for higher education partnerships between the UK and the Philippines since the UK is the only country which has a bilateral partnership on TNE with the Philippines.

    Technical and Vocational Education & Training 

     The Philippines is one of the top suppliers of international labour.  Skills that are in demand include construction, welding, IT, automotive, electronics, caregiving, physical therapy, cosmetology & wellness skills, among others. There is also a need for international qualification and accreditation services among the thousands of workers who want to be internationally competitive.

    Asian Development Bank Education Projects

    The Asian Development Bank (ADB) headquarters is located in the Philippines. Education is a priority sector and ADB projects include consultancies in designing and introducing innovation into education programmes in Asia; curriculum development; policy reform; and capability building for teachers.

    UK education and training providers are encouraged to register with the ADB Consultant Management system in order to know about the various education projects funded by the Bank around the Asian region.

    K-12 Opportunities

    There are substantial opportunities for teachers’ training; STEM courses for senior high school students; and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).  For 2018, the Department of Education has allotted a £373 million budget for learning implements, books, ICT/e-learning modules, tech voc tools/equipment, and science & mathematics materials.

    Education Technology & E-learning

    There is a growing demand for online education modules. The government is starting to equip public schools with computer laboratories to offer computer-based lessons. Some leading private schools are now requiring their students to buy notebooks/tablets instead of books. Online courses and distance education are also relevant to the higher education and lifelong learning sectors.

    Executive Education

    The corporate market needs short-term courses for professionals on specialised subjects which may be delivered through a partnership with Philippine universities or training institutions or via online programmes or via fly in fly out the arrangements with UK universities that are already in the region.

    Priority sectors include business process outsourcing, call centres, medical and legal transcription, computer-aided design (CAD), accounting and other back-office operations, especially in terms of ELT, IT courses and client relations.

    Enterprise-based training is in-demand in order to avoid work disruption for businesses while their staff are being trained.

  • | Singapore

    Contact: Department for International Trade Singapore
    T: +65 6424 4200

    Click the drop-down arrow to the right for more information.

    In 2016, Singapore’s GDP per capita was US$52,889 – the highest in Southeast Asia. The country’s economy grew 2% in 2016 to achieve GDP of US$410.3 billion and is forecast to grow around 4% in 2017. Singapore’s population is currently 5.5 million and its youth (age 15-19 years) account for around 6% of its population.

    Opportunities for UK Education & Training Providers

    The Singapore education system is ranked among the best in the world.  Singapore topped OECD’s global education ranking, with the highest mathematics and science scores and top PISA scores. The Singapore government consistently ranks education as one of its top spending priorities, accounting for about 20% of government expenditure.


    Singapore’s education system has often been described as one of the most stressful and competitive systems internationally.  The Ministry of Education has, therefore, shifted its focus from purely academic results to a high-quality holistic education, with emphasis on social competency and leadership development including developing students’ interests in music, arts, and sports. There is also a focus on developing and improving the standards of early childhood education.

    English Language Training

    Bilingualism is encouraged in the Singapore education system and all students must study English as well as their mother tongue language.  The government encourages the use of good English, creating business opportunities for UK providers but there is competition from companies from other English speaking nations.

    Higher Education

    Singapore has followed a clear strategy of investing in its state institutions and attracting leading foreign and private providers in order to become a top education destination.  The country is home to Asia’s top two ranked universities and Singapore’s top state institutions are able to offer an English-medium teaching environment.

    Local higher education institutions have received significant government funding for research and have been encouraged to collaborate internationally, especially in the areas of engineering, medicine, computer science and materials science.

    An increasing number of Singaporean students are looking for higher education opportunities and the government is increasing the number of subsidised places at the public institutions to meet this demand. Singapore currently has a publicly-funded cohort participation rate of 32% which the government plans to increase to 40% by 2020, creating increased competition for international higher education providers.

    Transnational Education

    Singapore has positioned itself as a hub for higher and international education. It is home to the largest number of branch campuses in Asia and has a wide range of TNE programmes offered through state-run and private higher education institutions.

    In 2016, Singapore was the second-largest market for British TNE offerings, with 50,000 international students studying for UK qualifications in Singapore, accounting for 31% of the market.

    However, rising costs and increased competition has forced some international branch campuses to close or relocate. There is, however, a healthy demand for new innovative degree programmes to serve the evolving needs of Singapore’s growing economy, such as cybersecurity, data analytics, digital media, healthcare, human resources, green technology and TVET programmes.

    International providers may initially gain funding through Singapore’s Economic Development Board.

    The UK as an Education Destination

    Singaporeans have a tradition of studying abroad with four in five parents prepared to send their child abroad for university and about 9% of secondary students studying overseas. In 2015, the Ministry of Manpower reported that 39% of degree holders in the resident labour force had obtained their degree abroad.

    In 2015 around 8,000 Singaporean students were studying in the UK according to Higher Education Statistics Agency (75% studying undergraduate degrees and 25% studying masters).

    In 2013, 22,578 Singaporean students went overseas for their higher education, however, this was a drop from over 25,000 students in 2002.  As the state-run higher education sector continues to improve it is expected the overall demand for overseas education to dip, although demand for the top UK universities will remain relatively unchanged.

    Smart Nation

    Singapore views itself as advancing towards becoming a Smart Nation, with technology and ICT playing a greater role in education, creating opportunities for cutting-edge educational and learning technology solutions, especially at school level.

    The government has committed until 2020 to spend over US$1 billion per year on the Skills Future Council and Continuing Education and Training Masterplan to upgrade the skills of its people so they can take advantage of job opportunities in new growth industries.

    This will create opportunities for UK professional and corporate training companies to set up training services in partnership with local providers.

    The government is also looking to transform industries and enterprises through its Industry Transformation Programme and Techskills Accelerator.

  • | Thailand

    Contact: Asa Chotchakornpant
    Trade & Investment Manager
    British Embassy Bangkok
    T: +662 305 8257

    Click the drop-down arrow to the right for more information.

    The Thai economy reached US$407 billion in 2016 achieving average GDP growth of 3.4% over the last five years.  Liberalising services and ensuring all Thai people have access to a quality education in order to acquire the necessary skills for work in a modern economy, will be key to raising productivity in the service sector and to a continued acceleration of economic growth. The economy is forecast to reach US$350 billion by 2020.

    Thailand is an entrepreneurial economy that welcomes foreign investment.  For Thailand, development of its education sector is the foundation of a sustainable economy and education reform is a key government priority.

    On 11th April 2016, the Thai and UK governments signed a MoU on an Education Partnership, committing the UK and Thailand to cooperate on standards of assessment, ELT, STEM education and vocational education. The MoU has already led to commercial contracts for UK education providers.

    Opportunities for UK Education & Training Providers

    International Schools

    With more than one million expatriates living in Thailand, international schools are in high demand.  There are approximately 170 international schools in Thailand offering a wide range of programmes including British, American, Australian, Chinese, Japanese, Singaporean and International Baccalaureate.

    The required license to set up an international school can be applied for from the Ministry of Education.

    Technical and Vocational Education & Training

    Thailand is a value-added manufacturing economy and logistical hub for ASEAN. Many international companies have based their ASEAN hubs in Bangkok, but they are faced with a skills gap in terms of English language proficiency and vocational skills.

    The Ministry of Education, therefore, plans to enhance vocational education and is receptive to collaborating with overseas delivery partners. The Ministry’s aim is to increase the number of students enrolling in vocational education and to provide higher quality vocational training so Thailand’s workforce has the necessary skills to support the country’s ongoing economic growth and prosperity.

    Higher Education: Transnational Education and UK Universities Branch Campuses

    In order for Thailand to remain competitive within the region and to gear up for a new era of innovation, the country has launched a national strategy Thailand 4.0. This strategy is designed to shift the country from dependency on exports of commodities and finished manufactured goods towards a more knowledge-based economy.

    Improving the education system and filling the country’s skills gaps are therefore the main focus for the Thai government. With this in mind, the government has agreed to invoke constitutional powers to allow foreign universities and colleges to set up branch campuses in Thailand.

    The government plans to equip the workforce with the necessary skills to be able to catch up and exploit the world’s new economic and business trends. This is part of the government’s broader national strategy to move towards an innovation-driven economy focusing on ten priority industries where a skilled labour force will be required, including:

    • First S-curve or five existing industrial sectors, which can be developed by adding value through advanced technologies: Next-Generation Automotive, Smart Electronics, High-Income Tourism and Medical Tourism, Efficient Agriculture and Biotechnology and Food Innovation;
    • New S-curve or five sectors which can serve as growth engines to accelerate Thailand’s future growth: Automation and Robotics, Aerospace, Bio-Energy and Bio-chemicals, Digital and Medical and Healthcare.

    Academic Content for STEM

    For the country to become a more innovation and technology-driven economy, STEM subjects need to be updated. The pedagogy needs to encourage students to learn through project-based and problem solving-based learning. The government plans to improve the country’s human resource base by adapting new generation education tools and methodologies to boost R&D and innovation projects.

    English as a Second Language

    Thai is the official language in Thailand and most public schools conduct classes in Thai with English taught only 2-3 periods per week, although English language is taught to a much higher standard in private and international schools. This has resulted in low English language competency in Thai students.

    The Thai Government is, therefore, investing in improving English language skills for school pupils, higher education and vocational students and also adults.

    English for Specific Purpose

    Thailand has an ambition to become a hub for automotive, petrochemicals, tourism, medical tourism and other industries. This has created a demand for specialised English language training courses within specific priority industries and business sectors.

    Teacher Training

    Teaching and learning in Thai schools is conducted in old-fashioned classroom style, with the teacher seen as the most important person in the classroom and students not encouraged to ask questions.

    In order to foster innovation amongst schoolchildren, it is recognised that the way teachers are trained needs to change.

    This creates opportunities for companies that are able to assist the relevant Thai institutions with modern approaches to teacher training programmes.

  • | Vietnam

    Contact: Department for International Trade Vietnam
    T: +842 838 251 380

    Click the drop-down arrow to the right for more information.

    Vietnam is one of the fastest growing and most vibrant economies in Asia. Vietnam’s GDP in 2016 was US$203 billion and over the last 20 years, annual growth has averaged 7%. With a population of over 92 million people, Vietnam is the third most populous country in Southeast Asia.

    Opportunities for UK Education & Training Providers

    Vietnam’s large young population offers huge opportunities for top-class UK education products and services. The numbers are staggering – 23 million students, over 1.25 million teachers, and 30,000 schools and higher education/TVET institutions.

    Education is a national priority. Since 2008, public spending on education as a percentage of GDP has been the highest in ASEAN – 6.3% or about US$10bn a year. However, the real spend on education is much higher because of private financings such as parental contributions or socialisation sources.

    A growing number of middle and high-income households are sending their children to international and other private schools, teaching subjects in English and embracing ICT in education. The market has seen a large influx of private English language providers to take advantage of parents’ investment in English language tuition for their children.

    K-12 Opportunities

    Significant growth in English language international schools is expected in the coming years. Under current regulations, international schools in Vietnam that are entirely foreign owned are restricted on the number of Vietnamese students eligible for enrolment.

    A government policy revision is set to remove this cap and, as a result, more international school options will be available. This will open up the market, creating significant opportunities for school growth and new school development.

    Government figures show that more than 110,000 Vietnamese students moved abroad to study in 2014; this number is growing year on year and includes children from the age of 12 being sent to boarding schools overseas, primarily in the UK, US, Australia and Singapore, because of limitations in Vietnam.

    The Vietnamese government hopes that more K-12 international school options in Vietnam will encourage families to stay in the country until higher education.

    Higher Education

    Vietnam’s higher education system has grown quickly. Since 2001 there has been a rapid growth in the number of local universities and colleges; by the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, there were 235 universities and institutes operating (170 public universities, 60 private universities and 5 fully foreign owned universities).

    The Government of Vietnam is addressing critical challenges by setting longer-term goals for higher education in its Education Development Strategic Plan 2008-2020, as well as in its Higher Education Reform Agenda. This shows commitment to improving the system in a rapidly changing economic and social environment.

    Transnational Education (TNE)

    Transnational education (TNE) is booming in Vietnam. The number of TNE programmes registered has increased to 432 programmes in 2016.  This includes 55 TNE programmes with 23 British partners. Vietnamese public universities are very active in providing TNE programmes. In comparison with other countries in the region, Vietnam is active as TNE importer.


    Vietnam aims to become an industrialised country by 2020. TVET is central to this aspiration: the demand for skilled workers is increasing steadily as the country’s economy continues to grow and it aims to be competitive both regionally and globally.

    There is a shortage of skilled workers and technicians with practical training, yet around 1.4 million people enter the labour market each year. Only 27% of workers have training relevant to the job they do, and only 15% have completed formal vocational training.

    The Government has, therefore, put vocational skills training and boosting employment at the heart of its development goals. Its aim is that by 2020 trained skilled workers will make up 55% of the labour force (currently 30%) and that one third will have successfully completed intermediate or advanced vocational training.

    The Government wants to tailor its vocational training to the needs of the business community and is promoting the expansion of vocational education and training provision and improvements in the quality and needs-based focus of training.

    Other Opportunities

    There are also ongoing education business opportunities in: curriculum reform, English language training, teacher training, assessment, digital textbooks, e-learning platforms, joint degree programmes, school equipment, consulting opportunities and business partnerships.