End of the Year Reflections

December 19th, 2017 by


End of Year Reflections

Christmas background snowflakes with lights vector illustration

As has been my custom over the past five years, this end-of-the-year blog will contain no statistics or data supporting or disproving assumptions about the changing face of international student recruitment and enrollment. I will not share with you my thoughts on the impact of the Brexit referendum in Britain or the impact of the Trump election on future international student enrollments.

In the next year, my book, International Student Mobility and the New World Disorder, will be published and in that publication I will share with you why I believe major shifts are already in place for where international students will enroll in the future and how international deans and recruiters will recruit international students in the future.

For now, all I wish to do in this posting is to wish you and your family and your colleagues health and happiness in 2018.


Marguerite J. Dennis

Naples, Florida

International Student Mobility and the Pivot to Asia

December 7th, 2017 by

 International Student Mobility and the Pivot to Asia                       

The demand for higher education in South and East Asia has exploded. According to a World Education Services report, in 2015 Asian countries sent an estimated 2.3 million students abroad for study. With a population of more than 620 million under the age of 18, $226 trillion combined economy and the fastest growing middle class in the world, South Asia is poised to become a major economic player in the future. The 10 ASEAN countries are projected to become the 5th largest economic bloc by 2020.

More than 300 million students are enrolled in higher education in South Asia and the unmet need is estimated to be 3 to 4 times that number. The governments of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Korea, Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia have made higher education a priority and have invested heavily in higher education initiatives.

In March, 2016, the ASEAN-Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint for Higher Education 2015-2025 was launched. The goals are to promote innovation in higher education and encourage the free flow of ideas, knowledge, expertize and skills within the region. The architects of the blueprint hope that it will strengthen regional and global cooperation by enhancing the quality of competitiveness of higher education institutions across ASEAN.

The year 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. One of the major accomplishments of ASEAN has been the harmonization of member states’ education systems and increased collaboration among universities in the region.

In April, 2017 the Asian Universities Alliance was created to facilitate the creation of a platform facilitating exchange programs as well as joint research projects.

Collaborations between institutions in the region include: Malaysia’s Al Bikhary International University and Turkey’s Ibn Haldun University, National Taiwan University and Vietnam National University and Southern Taiwan Universities Alliance and several universities in the Philippines.

No doubt these are ambitious regional goals. I am not suggesting that past and current strongholds of international student enrollments will immediately decrease or disappear. But I am suggesting that several political, economic and sociological trends suggest that over time, there will be an increased shift in regional enrollments from the west to the east.


Fall, 2017 International Student Trends

November 21st, 2017 by


Fall, 2017 International Student Trends

Although all of the fall, 2017 international student enrollment reports are not known and although no one has a crystal ball, I think it is safe to write an article about the clear enrollment winners and losers for the fall semester.

Clearly countries like Canada and Australia enrolled an increasing number of international students. Clearly the impact of Brexit and the Trump election has affected the decreased number of international students enrolling in those two countries.

Clearly the pivot to Asia has happened with China and other countries in Asia and Southeast Asia enrolling increased number of international and study abroad students for this semester.

Clearly the “new” international student, the digital student, will increase the number of international student enrollments but in a different way.  Digital students, especially in Africa, will enroll in international courses but they may never leave their home countries.

Clearly the impact of nationalism, especially in several countries in eastern Europe, will impact the migration of students from those countries to other parts of the world.

Clearly it is no longer possible to write and implement international strategic recruitment plans without researching the economic, political and societal trends taking place in countries of recruitment.  

Clearly it is time to change the way international deans and recruiters plan for future international student enrollments.

I have spent the past three years researching and studying the way international student trends are changing. Some of the changes are subtle, like the dynamic “soft power” higher education initiatives of China in countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Others are not so subtle. No longer can we separate where international students study and the Brexit vote or Trump election. Both events have, and will continue to impact, the enrollments of international students not just in this year but for years to come.

More predictions to come.

International Student Recruitment and the New World Disorder

October 24th, 2017 by

International Student Recruitment and the New World Disorder

In the Price Waterhouse Coopers’ report, The World in 2050: Will the shift in global power continue?, the authors estimate that in just a few decades the world will be very different than it is today in terms of the global ranking of national economies and the major drivers of economic growth. The report notes that China overtook the United States in 2014 to become the world’s largest economy on purchasing power parity and by 2028 the authors project that China will surpass the United States’ GDP in market exchange rate terms.

Countries with the fastest growing economies, populations and growing middle classes in Asia, like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam will dominate economic growth in the region. And the Asian middle class is expected to increase from 600 million in 2010 to more than 3 billion by 2030 to represent 66 percent of total global middle class population.

International student mobility, by extension, will be impacted by this new economic reality. I think it is safe to predict that regional mobility will grow in importance over global mobility and the major importers of students today, the United States and the United Kingdom, will continue to lose their share of internationally mobile students. While China will remain a leading exporter of students, it will increasingly become a major importer of students with a goal of enrolling 500,000 international students by 2020.

According to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report, the stage is set for a new level of competition among international study destinations. National visa and immigration policies, coordinated regional and national marketing campaigns, availability of scholarships and employment after graduation, will be some of the factors countries can leverage to maintain or increase their market share of international students.

In his book, The World in Disarray, Richard Haass writes: What exists in many parts of the world resembles more a new world disorder.”

I would extent that sentiment to international higher education.

This article is excerpted from my new book, International Student Mobility and the New World Disorder, to be published in December, 2017.


Impact of Technology on International Recruitment

October 10th, 2017 by


International Student Mobility and the Impact of Technology on International Recruitment

There will probably be no greater impact on higher education worldwide than the integration of technology into educational delivery methods. The internet has rendered geography irrelevant and digital options, especially in India and parts of Africa, are changing the way higher education is consumed in those countries. Many students may study abroad but they may do so never leaving their home countries.

The numbers are staggering and change daily but, according to the report, Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education Enrollment Report 2017, 30 percent of students worldwide are enrolled in at least 1 online course.

I realize the jury is still out on the potential and sustainability of online education. But the major MOOC providers, Udacity, Coursera and edX in the United States, FutureLearn in Britain and Iversity in Germany, among others believe that online and MOOC courses have the potential to educate millions of students, democratize higher education and build global communities.

Two technology giants, Google and Bertelsmann, also believe in the potential of MOOCs to transform how higher education is delivered and have launched a scholarship program to fund and enroll 75,000 students from the European Union, Egypt, Israel, Russia and Turkey in MOOC courses.

Google education writer, Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink, wrote the following: “Technology can bypass the geopolitical and financial boundaries that block educational resources from reaching students, while making those resources more engaging, interactive and effective.”

The jury is still out on the potential and sustainability of online learning and MOOC courses. But I believe the greatest promises of online learning and MOOCs, as well as the greatest threats, have yet to materialize.

Debate and disagreement will continue among members of the higher education community. But, in my opinion, the colleges and universities that will successfully maneuver around the headwinds of change will be the schools that realize that tomorrow’s technology is already today’s reality.

This article is excerpted from my new book, International Student Mobility and the New World Disorder, to be published in December, 2017.