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The 2011/12 school year in the Philippines, a country located in the Southeast Asia, is just around the corner and the influx of so many foreign students who are enrolling in various institutions of learning is highly noticeable and alarming.

Benigo Aquino, the Philippines President

The 2011/12 school year in the Philippines, a country located in the Southeast Asia, is just around the corner and the influx of so many foreign students who are enrolling in various institutions of learning is highly noticeable and alarming.

The question then is, why this rush for a taste in the Philippines educational system, what is making it so attractive to this array of foreign students in the country right now?

According to Agence France-Presse (AFP) report, the reasons are not far fetched; as some of the factors are the issues of cheap yet high-quality courses conducted in English and an easy-going lifestyle of an average Filipino outside the class.

AFP observed that with more than 2,100 private and state-run institutions nationwide offering a wide array of courses, and an immigration policy friendly to foreign students, the former American colony is enjoying an enrolment boom.

It also added that immigration bureau sources have it that nearly 20,000 foreign students held special visas at the end of the school year in March stressing that the number would eventual rise when classes begin from June 6.

Education Road Show Conducted by Manila Schools

Quoting a Nigerian medical student, Dike Edward Ikechukwu, 22, AFP said he learnt about studying in the Philippines at an education road show conducted by Manila schools in his country.

Speaking on this Ikechukwu, who is also the president of the 605-member foreign students’ organization at Manila’s 400-year-old University of Santo Tomas said he was attracted to study in the Philippines, a place he could expand his medical knowledge without depleting the family resources. “It was cost effective for me. I would have spent so much more in the United States for the same quality of education.”

Ikechukwu who also believed that a four-year degree course in the Philippines which costs between 1,000 and 2,500 dollars a year, is significantly cheaper than in the United States for example where one could spend more than 30,000 dollars annually.

English Language Widely Spoken in the Philippines

English language which is widely spoken in the Philippines is another very important factor for Ikechukwu. He said his father, a shipping consultant, travelled to the Philippines before he enrolled in order to inspect the university and liked the fact that English is widely spoken in the country.

Another foreign student who barred her mind on the potentials of studying in the Philippines is the 22-year-old, Beryl France Buendia, an American taking a physical therapy degree at the University of Santo Tomas.

And according to her, she believed studying in the Philippines would not disadvantage her in the US job market. “I believe a Philippine diploma can be just as competitive in the States. Cost was a big factor in deciding to study in Manila.”

She also stated: “My dad’s quite old and my mom’s going to retire soon so they had to budget the plan, so we decided to enroll here.”

Government’s Strong Push to make the Philippines “Academic Mecca” in Asia

In her contribution, the assistant to the rector for student affairs at the University of Santo Tomas, Professor Evelyn Songco, credited the high number of foreigners to the government’s strong push to make the Philippines an “academic Mecca” in Asia.

It is to be observed that though the Philippines is one of the poorest countries in Asia and also with one of the biggest wealth divides, the literacy rate remains one of the highest in the region, which as at today stands at about 90 percent high.

We also note that one of the strongest remote causes for the influx of foreign students to the Philippines is as a result of the fact that government began enticing foreign students to study in the Philippines as far back as in the 1980s, and this was mostly in specialized fields such as medicine and agriculture.

And again it need to be noted that in the following decades there was an explosion of schools and institutions offering short-term courses in English language, aviation, hotel and restaurant management and maritime-related classes too, and these factors helped in attracting foreign students to study in the Philippines.