According to a study just released by the market research firm Global Industry Analysts, Inc. (GIA), the worldwide market for private tutoring is projected to grow beyond $102.8 billion by 2018. (A 2011 study arrived at very similar conclusions.)

The GIA study indicates that tutoring growth is fueled mainly by two factors:

  • A widespread failure of standard educational systems to meet the needs of individual students
  • An increasing desire among parents and families in many cultures to help their children “get ahead” in what they see as a highly competitive global economy

GIA’s data indicates that Asian countries (especially South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong and Singapore) are at the forefront of the global tutoring boom. Along with the US, these nations represent more than 90% of the global tutoring market. The private tutoring market just in South Korea alone is expected to reach $13.9 billion – about 15% of the entire global market – by the end of this year.

India is also a major factor in the world’s tutoring economy. Besides its large and growing domestic tutoring market, Indian tutors probably lead the world in online tutoring, offering web-based tutoring in English, math and other subjects at a lower cost than their counterparts in the US, UK and elsewhere.

In countries throughout the world, such as Israel, high-school age students in particular are receiving more and more tutoring. “High-stakes” testing at the national level (as in India and China) as well as increasingly tough competition for college admissions, are likely driving these trends.

Meanwhile, rampant growth in the US tutoring market is being fueled by $134 million in new funds for low-income students through the No Child Left Behind Act. At the same time, school budget cuts are reducing the number of at-school tutoring programs while also diminishing educational quality in the eyes of many parents.

Private tutoring companies are growing to meet these additional needs. The “supplemental education” sector is currently over $5 billion in the US, about ten times what it was a decade ago and double what it was in 2008, according to educational consultants Eduventures.

Some argue that this rapid growth has often resulted in a confusing array of tutoring options and course choices for parents and learners, including traditional academic subjects, test prep, study skills and enrichment course choices in in-home, online and other formats.

And while word of mouth remains a good way to find a reliable, local tutor for in-home learning support, it may be that the franchising and centralization of tutors (some web-based services, such as WyzAnt and India-based, offer a choice of thousands of tutors at rates ranging from $15 to over $150 per hour) actually makes it more difficult to find high-quality, reliable tutoring support.

Do you feel the growing emphasis on tutoring worldwide is benefitting students? Or just creating more stress in their lives and their parents’ lives? Would the money spent on private tutoring be better applied towards “fixing” national educational systems?

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