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.
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.
This will be a short blog. No facts, figures, statistics, predictions. I simply want to thank all of the readers of my monthly postings for your continued support and to wish all of you and your families a very happy and healthy new year.
I will continue, in the new year, to conduct research on the trends in international recruitment and enrollment and share with you information that I trust will be helpful as you go forward with your international strategic plans.
As the year 2016 comes to a close, I went back to review five of the international predictions and trends I made in January to check for accuracy.
Here is what I predicted:
Regional, rather that international hubs, will grow in importance. Check
Asian countries including Hong Kong, Malaysia, and China have all reported increases in international student enrollments from the region.
Articulation agreements will replace branch campus development. Check
A recent report published by The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education reveals a waning of interest, especially in the United States, of opening up branch campuses overseas.
MOOCs and other digital-based educational delivery models will continue to grow in importance, enrolling a new and different cohort of international students. Check.
Coursera, FutureLearn and edX have all reported increasing the number of students taking MOOC courses. In September of this year, MIT piloted an online MicroMasters credential and has partnered with Pearson which will allow MicroMasters students to study at local centers in 70 countries worldwide.
Technology will change the ways international students are recruited. Check.
A great deal has been written this year about Big Data and its impact on several aspects of higher education, from predicting which students will enroll, which students are likely to persist and graduate, and which students will become active alumni after graduation. Big Data can help international strategic planners and recruiters to construct analytical databases to provide college administrators with speedy, actionable. information in order to make smart decisions and allocate both staff time and resources to increase enrollments from existing markets and build new ones.
Always have a Plan B. Check
How many international strategic plans had alternative recruitment strategies in place after the Brexit vote or the drop in oil prices which impacted enrollment of students from Saudi Arabia?
No one can predict with absolute accuracy what the future will bring. But there are trends that can reveal what is likely to happen in the future. More to come in 2017.