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.
Since many of you reading this blog have strategic plans that include, even depend, on recruiting international students, I have decided to share with you how future international student recruitment may be impacted by the current administration.
International deans and recruiters are facing the perception that the United States is no longer a country welcoming international students and scholars. As you know, perception becomes reality whether that reality is true of not.
Between eight and ten percent of total net tuition revenue in the United States comes from international students so disrupting the flow of international students can have disastrous repercussions for many schools.
Let’s examine how future international student enrollment could be affected by recently proposed regulations:
Order banning students from seven Muslim countries
If reinstated, the executive order banning visitors, students, and scholars from seven Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen could result in colleges and universities in the United States losing up to $700 million annually, according to estimates by CollegeFactual, a higher education research firm.
More than 17,000 students from these seven countries are currently enrolled on college and university campuses in the United States, the majority in graduate programs. An estimated 2,300 scholars from these countries would be affected by this executive order.
Visa and employment regulations
The proposed stricter policies on issuing visas and Optional Practical Training, or OPT regulations, could impact the recruitment of certain international students. Indian students, in particular, favor enrollment in countries with generous post-graduation employment options. When the United Kingdom scrapped post-graduation permits for international students in 2012, the number of Indian students enrolling in UK universities declined by almost 30 percent. The same is likely to happen in the United States if it becomes more difficult for international students to remain in the U.S. to work after graduation.
International scholars and conferences
In February, 2017, more than 6,000 academics from around the world pledged to boycott future international conferences held in the United States as long as the executive order banning travel from seven Muslim countries is in effect. Some Canadian universities have taken it a step further, by rescheduling previously booked conferences.
No one knows for certain how the recent executive orders and travel bans will eventually impact international recruitment. But some changes are inevitable. In my next blog I will share with you the countries most likely to benefit from the uncertainty in the United States: Canada, Australia and China.
In my last blog post I recommended that international deans and recruiters begin now to plan and write their school’s international strategic recruiting plan for 2018.
The following are four recommendations to assist with that planning:
Review all your current articulation agreements and affiliations
Can you strengthen these agreements? Two plus two programs? Combined degrees? Study abroad and summer programs? On-line collaboration? Take a fresh look at the international partners you already have.
Meet with faculty with international contacts
Are there international faculty contacts that could be explored for potential collaboration? Many professors attend international conferences. Can you provide them with information so they can begin a dialogue with their colleagues?
Based on your research, select two or three new countries for recruitment. I am a big believer in using big data and predictive analytics to guide strategic decisions. But I also believe in getting information from real people. Send a recruiter to explore the possibilities in the new recruiting countries before making a financial commitment.
An agile and open mind, married with a pragmatic approach to international student recruitment, should be the cornerstone of all future international recruiting plans. Being ready to move on a dime and change your college or university’s strategic international plan requires an openness to a new way of thinking and a flexible team. Often this means a culture change from the way your school previously recruited international students to being ready to first recognize new recruiting opportunities and then implement effective and efficient changes to your school’s benefit.
This is not the time to rehearse a new way of thinking. In many colleges and universities traditional recruiting is often a management tool, not a tool for understanding the new world order that will influence politics, economics and student mobility. The tranquilizing drug of last year’s enrollment statistics will have no relevance in the future.
Change permeates nearly every facet of life. The dark alchemy of disruption and unpredictability in international student recruiting demands a new way of thinking and planning.
The landscape and legacy of thinking “without a box” may serve you well. So think “without a box” and see what happens in 2018.
International Students in the United States: Past Statistics and Future Predictions
Almost every day some announcement from educational organizations and U.S. colleges and universities predict fewer international students will enroll on U.S. college campuses in the future. While fall enrollment statistics are not yet available, I think it is safe to concur with that prediction.
Those of you reading this blog know that in marketing perception becomes reality. And the perception is that the United States no longer offers a welcoming environment for international students, professors, conferences.
Many of my future blogs will provide a chronology of how policies are impacting international student recruitment. But this blog is not about what will happen in the future but what has happened in the past.
There is ample evidence that the U.S. has been losing market share of the worldwide international student market for several years.
Consider the following:
In 2015-16 international student enrollment in the United States increased by 7 per cent from the previous year. But that was down from a 10 per cent increase in the previous year.
In 2001, 28 per cent of all international students enrolled in colleges and universities in the United States. By 2014, it was 22 per cent.
In 2014-15, there were 304,040 Chinese students studying on United States’ colleges and universities, a 10.8 per cent increase from the previous year. However, in 2013-14 the increase was 21.4 per cent.
There are many more statistics to support the premise that long before the election of President Trump the United States was losing its dominance in international student enrollments.
I predict this will be a very disruptive year for international admission deans and recruiters. I recommend discarding current strategic international plans and prepare new plans that include the political and economic realities of 2017.