Acumen Releases Key Trends Southeast Asia 2024 Report on International Education

Acumen is proud to present its latest research – the “Acumen Key Trends Southeast Asia 2024″ report.  The first annual publication of its kind, this comprehensive report provides insights for institutions, policymakers, and education stakeholders on the meta-trends influencing international education in the region.  

The report also includes recommendations on how institutions can respond to these trends.

Southeast Asia is the third largest region globally for outbound international students after China and India, with Vietnam a standout market in the region in terms of study abroad. Demographics, income growth, supply-side constraints as well as relentless demand from parents for high-quality education mean that Southeast Asia will continue to loom large as an important diversification market for international institutions. 

Southeast Asia is also an important region for the delivery of Transnational Education (TNE), led by Malaysia and Singapore, as well as emerging new opportunities in Vietnam and Indonesia in particular.

For institutions looking to meet diversification objectives, Southeast Asia is compelling.  The region offers quality and diverse cohorts of students, consistent and growing demand for international study, as well as opportunities to diversify delivery modes through Transnational Education. Acumen assesses there’s a lot to play for in the region; this report is our contribution to supporting the international education sector to successfully engage in the region.” –
Haike Manning, Executive Director, Southeast Asia, Acumen

The report shines a light on five key trends Acumen assesses will influence the international education sector in Southeast Asia in 2024: 

  • Growth in Intra-Asian Student Mobility: The post-pandemic era has ushered in a new age of intra-Asian student mobility, reshaping study preferences. Travel hesitancy, financial constraints, the ascendancy of regional TNE options, and the amplification of soft power are driving heightened awareness and demand among Asian students to pursue studies within the region.  While Acumen assesses there remains solid demand for English-speaking destinations, international providers need to be mindful of the increasing quality and options available within the region.
  • The Next Generation of TNE: Southeast Asia is a significant global hub for cross-border education, dominated by Australia and the UK.  But important changes are afoot:  Malaysian institutions are becoming TNE providers in their own right, and favourable regulatory changes in Indonesia and Vietnam mean new opportunities for in-country provision of international education which can cater to a new market segment.   
  • The Rise of International Schools/Bilingual Schools: Key markets in Southeast Asia have witnessed a proliferation in international, dual-curricula, and bilingual schools. These schools improve students’ preparation for international tertiary education and are a powerful indicator of families’ financial capabilities to invest in education for their children.  
  • Shifting Patterns of Demand in Malaysia: Malaysia has for many years been an important market for international students, particularly for undergraduate studies. Acumen’s report looks at potential shifts in preference toward postgraduate programmes, the growing importance of employability outcomes, as well as shifts in programme preferences.
  • The Evolving Role of Education Agents: In an era where consumers exhibit heightened sophistication and autonomy in researching study options, continued reliance on education agents for guidance throughout the enrolment and visa application process remains vital. Acumen’s report investigates how agents are adapting to this dynamic landscape and how institutions can foster more effective collaboration with them.

“Our recommendations on how institutions can respond to emerging trends in Southeast Asia include a relentless focus on all points of the customer journey, recognising the competitive landscape in which institutions are operating.  We also assess it is essential to acknowledge the important cultural differences within the region and to adjust your approach accordingly.  Finally, we recommend that institutions should balance their investment between established and emerging markets in Southeast Asia, recognising the demographic and economic growth stories within the region: 75% of all 0-14 year-olds in Southeast Asia are in Vietnam, Indonesia and The Philippines.” 

Acumen also offers the following immersive programmes to support engagement in Southeast Asia: 

  • Vietnam Rising: for global university leaders to get a longer-term strategic view of one of the world’s most existing international education markets.
  • Diversify Southeast Asia: supporting university leaders to understand how to best achieve diversification objectives operating across the region as a whole.

The Southeast Asia Key Trends Report 2024 is available online and in print at:

About Acumen:

ACUMEN, part of Sannam S4 Group, is committed to helping globally-ambitious university and education partners enter, explore and expand in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and beyond. We offer a dedicated range of services to drive recruitment, student enrolment, develop strategic partnerships, and research collaboration. As a result, we act as an extension of your brand, by connecting you with the world’s best students, utilising strategic international education opportunities, understanding your ideal market through research and insights, and help mitigate any risks along the way. We operate in over 20 countries, with more than 250 industry practitioners with deep local knowledge and global expertise. We help navigate a competitive education landscape from end to end, while always prioritising your success.