Time to take another snapshot of international student mobility patterns a year after Brexit and six months after the U.S. election. I don’t think we will have to wait until September to learn which countries have already emerged as international student “winners.”
Consider the following.
Many colleges and universities in the U.S. and UK are reporting declines in international student applicants.
Clearly most Canadian colleges and universities have experienced an increase in applications from international students. The University of Toronto, for example, reports a 20 percent increase in undergraduate applications and a 41 percent increase in graduate student applications.
International undergraduate applications have increased nearly 30 percent at the University of Alberta; a 120 percent increase in applications from India and a 50 percent increase from U.S. applicants.
The number of international applicants to Irish universities has increased by 17 percent this year with significant increases of applicants from China, India and Southeast Asia.
In 2016-17 a record 112,000 international students attended Dutch colleges and universities. Courses offered in English, low tuition costs and post-graduate employment opportunities contributed to the increase. The highest number of students came from Germany, China and Italy.
In a recent UNESCO report, Malaysia has emerged as one of the top 10 destinations for post-secondary education. Currently there are 11 foreign branch campuses in Malaysia and the Malaysian government has set up two education zones as sites for additional branch campuses.
“The Jakarta Post” recently reported that Indonesia will have one of the largest college-age populations in the world by 2020. Government policies are poised to make the country an educational hub for students in Southeast Asia.
The international higher education student market is poised to grow by almost 5 percent by 2021.
Regional educational hubs, rather that distant locations, will realize an increase in international student enrollments.
The largest increase in international, college-age students will come from Asia.
Government policies, including streamlined visa processing procedures, low tuition costs and favorable employment opportunities after graduation, will determine, in part, future international student mobility patterns.
Look to Africa to recruit future international students
For ten years I managed the recruitment and admission functions of Suffolk University’s campus in Dakar. We recruited students from all over Africa, enrolled students from more than 40 countries, and all of the students, after two years, moved on to complete four-year undergraduate degrees. These were among the best students we enrolled. So I am very bullish on recruiting students from Africa.
Let’s examine some of the reasons why.
The African continent is the second and most populous continent on earth. More than one billion people live in Africa today. By some estimates the African middle class has tripled over the past 14 years from 4.6 million households in 2000 to 15 million by 2016. These figures represent a new cohort of students for many colleges and universities worldwide from which to recruit.
Over the past ten years enrollments from Africa have increased both within Africa and around the world. Students from Africa account for more than one in 10 international students. France continues to be the top destination for African students studying abroad, followed by South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany.
According to a recent UNESCO report, an increasing number of African students are choosing to remain in Africa for postsecondary education. South Africa is the preferred destination with nine of the top ten sending countries located in sub-Saharan Africa. Living conditions in South Africa, along with the cost of living and visa requirements are among the reasons for increased African enrollment in South African universities. South Africa is also a leader in mobile learning, particularly using cell phone to deliver courses.
The future of recruiting African students lies in providing online courses. eLearnAfrica is a MOOC provider offering more than 1,000 courses from EdX, FutureLearn and other online providers and institutions. In February, 2017, eLearnAfrica and the Association of African Universities announced a partnership that will expand online learning opportunities for students enrolled in 380 member schools.
The future of enrolling African students may not lie in the traditional bricks and mortar recruitment scheme but rather in remote, online educational delivery. Is your college or university poised to recruit African students through online options?
Recruiting in Africa is not easy. More about the best ways to do this in a future blog.b
At the risk of being accused of being politically correct (or incorrect), I would like to share with you some of the international higher education myths I have uncovered over the past few months.
The U.S. continues leads the world in attracting international students.
Last year, the U.S. had a 10 percent increase in international students. But Canada increased its international student population by 13 percent, and Australia and New Zealand increased the number of students studying on its campuses by 12 percent.
The demand for higher education is greatest in Europe.
The demand for higher education in South Asia is exploding. With a population of more than 600 million under the age of 18, and with the rapid pace of social and economic changes taking place in the region, South Asia is poised to take over Western Europe and the U.S. as a primary choice for enrollment. This fact may not be reflected in next year’s enrollment statistics, but this is a trend that I would watch closely for future recruitment threats and opportunities.
International hubs and branch campuses will continue to increase in the future.
International hubs may increase in the future but I predict regional hubs, rather than international hubs, will grow faster.
The Asian middle class has grown faster than any other region in the world.
The Asian middle class has increased in numbers over the past two decades but the African middle class has tripled over the past 14 years from 4.6 million households in 2000 to 15 million in 2016.
The UK continues to be the number one choice for U.S. students studying abroad.
The fastest growing market for U.S. students is Germany. The number of U.S. students studying in Germany is estimated to be 10,000. Most of the students pay no tuition.
The fastest growing Chinese market will be at the graduate and undergraduate level.
Chinese teenagers, as young as 14, are enrolling in high schools throughout the world in increasing numbers. Last year, for example, the number of Chinese high school students was nearly 50,000. This is 100 times more than in 2004.
These are but a few of the myths and facts in international higher education. More to come in the future.
How Australia is increasing its international student population
I will predict that when international student numbers are reported in the fall, Australia, along with Canada, will realize a substantial increase in international student numbers. With regard to Australia, there are many reasons for this.
Last year, according to the Australian Department of Education and Training, Australia’s international student population was 554,179, an increase of 11 percent. This is not a single year phenomena. The average annual growth rate has been 10.5 percent since 2013.
Asia dominates international student enrollments in Australia. Three in four international students come from Asia. China especially dominates international student numbers. More than 156,000 students from China studied in Australia in 2016.
What are some of the reasons for this growth? First, Australian universities enjoy a worldwide reputation for excellence. Second, the Minister for Education and Training reported that the most recent International Student Survey revealed that 89 percent of international higher education students reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their educational experience in Australia.
Third, personal safety and security is another reason for an increase in international student enrollment in Australia.
Fourth, the Australian government, in my opinion, has made wise policy decisions which have supported international student recruitment and enrollment. International education is the third largest export for Australia generating more than A$21 billion in annual revenue in 2016.
Australia’ first National Strategy for International Education has nine goals to enhance Australian international education, including a focus on student experience as well as education quality. The country, not just individual schools, are marketed as a desirable international student destination.
The government has also introduced work opportunities both during enrollment and after graduation. Students can work up to 40 hours over two weeks during the school term and for unlimited hours in term breaks. Also, eligible students can work up to four years after graduation. This has been especially important for students from specific countries. Brazilian students, for example, faced with economic difficulties at home, have increasingly enrolled in increasing numbers in Australia. Last year the number of Brazilian enrollments in Australia increased by 20 percent.
These measures by the Australian government come at a time when many countries appear less welcoming to international students.
A combination of an excellent educational system combined with wise government policies supporting international student recruitment and enrollment, are responsible for the huge success in Australia. The rest of the world has a great deal to learn from our colleagues, down under.
If you want to learn more about Australian educational policies and trends, I suggest you read Louise Hargreaves’ Higher Education Morning Update. Louise’s email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Shortly after writing this blog, I received an invitation to study in Australia with the promise that I would receive a response in 48 hours!
In the last blog post I shared with you some of the likely implications on future international student recruitment and enrollment as a result of recent executive orders and new regulations. This blog will focus on three countries likely to benefit from the uncertainty in the United States: Canada, Australia and China.
On January 28, 2017, Canada’s TheGlobe and Mail reported that at many Canadian universities, applications from American students for the 2017-18 academic year are up between 20 to 80 percent compared with last year. There are several reasons for this, including an effective Canadian recruitment program in the United States, a drop in the Canadian dollar, improved visa processing and uncertainty over future U.S. higher education regulations. Additionally, Montreal was rated first on a list of global student cities, edging out Paris for the first time. Affordability, quality of education and student experience, were some of the factors for the ranking.
Canada is now the destination of choice for Mexican students. and between 2013 and 2015 the number of Indian students enrolling in Canadian schools increased by 40 percent.
According to the Australian Department of Education and Training, international student enrollment increased 10 percent to 554,179 last year. In the latest survey of international students, 89 percent indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with their overall educational experience in Australia. The reputation of the Australian higher education universities and colleges and personal safety and security were listed as some of the reasons for student satisfaction.
The Turnbull government is committed to international student outreach and last year international student revenue in Australia was AU$ 21.8, making it Australia’s third-largest export.
China’s educational policies and outreach stand in stark to the uncertainty in the United States over future international student enrollment regulations. Generous funding by the Chinese government is attracting noted scientists and scholars. Similar funding of international Asian and African students has made China an attractive alternative to the United States. The Chinese have taken “soft power” to a new level.
I do believe that when the September international student enrollment numbers are reported in November, many schools in the United States will report a decline in their international student population. True, the top colleges and universities will not be affected but many smaller schools will.
I am reminded that similar gloom and doom articles were written after the September,2001 attacks in the United States. Yet, after a few years, international students did return to the U.S. for study. But I would argue that the international student recruitment market has become much more competitive than it was in 9.11.2001. And it will be more difficult to regain market share.
International deans and recruiters should prepare now for the certainty of the uncertainty in U.S. international recruitment and enrollment.