There is an urgent need to increase our knowledge about the level and content of trade in educational services, both of the more "traditional trade" by students studying abroad and on "newer forms of trade" such as cross-border e-learning activities in post-secondary education and training. Existing material and information on both topics are scarce and difficult to evaluate.
There are two main statistical sources of trade in educational services:
- statistics on trade in services and
- INES statistics on foreign students in tertiary education.
A rough estimate puts the value of the trade in higher education at about $US 30 billions in 1999, equivalent to 3 per cent of total services trade in OECD countries. This figure takes only into account students studying abroad and is undoubtedly an underestimate of the current level of trade in educational services. Trade revenues from cross-border e-learning activities and from the establishment of campuses and teaching facilities abroad are not included in the figure. Nor does the figure cover other forms of education such as adult education and training, which is expected to grow rapidly across borders.
For further information, see working paper "Trade in Educational Services: Trends and Emerging Issues"
In December 2001, OECD convened an Experts' Meeting on statistics and indicators on the internationalisation in post-secondary education and training to use existing data and quantitative and qualitative studies to get a more reliable picture of the size and the main trends in trade in educational services. Further work will be done to improve statistics and indicators based on the outcome of this meeting.
For further information, see Experts' Meeting on statistics and indicators on the internationalisation in post-secondary education and training.