Election 2016 and Future International Student Recruiting

November 22nd, 2016 by

Globe in hands on a background of flags of the European Union and the USA

Election 2016 and Future International Student Recruiting

By the time you read this post, the U.S. presidential election will be nearly two weeks old.  Many of you, like me, have read articles predicting the worst for the United States, a country retreating from the world stage. No one can, or should, predict what will unfold in the United States in the weeks and months ahead. There are simply too many unknowns with regard to the political, economic and social fallout of the election. To be fair we know almost nothing about specific education policies articulated by the President-elect and I cannot recall reading any policies with regard to international education.

This blog has always had an international focus. So I will limit this post to how future international student enrollment may be impacted by the election realizing that it is too soon to predict with accuracy how future international students will enroll in the United States in the years to come.

But there are a few suppositions I would like to share with you on what may (or not) influence future international student enrollment.

Perception & Reality

Polls taken of prospective international students prior to the election reveled that they overwhelmingly supported a Clinton victory over Trump. FPP EDU Media and Intead’s survey found that 60 percent of the 40,000 students polled from 118 countries would be less inclined to enroll in U.S. colleges and universities if Trump was elected. Another survey conducted by Study in the USA of 1,000 prospective international students produced similar results. Overwhelmingly the survey participants indicated they would be more likely to enroll in the U.S. if Clinton was elected.

I think it is fair to state that the perception of a Trump presidency, creating an unwelcoming environment for future international students, especially students from Mexico and Muslim countries, is valid. It is fair to suppose that visa regulations will change and prospective students from regions identified as having a “history of exporting terrorism” will have a more difficult time gaining entry into the United States. I am not making a political statement but rather sharing with you what has been stated by the President-elect. And as every marketer knows, perception becomes reality.

Future enrollment from China is another wild card. To date China has remained relatively quiet on the election results. But if trade sanctions are imposed on China, as was promoted during the campaign by the President-elect, what do you think would be the impact on future student enrollment from China?

The journalist, Ian Bremmer, in an article published in “Time” magazine, a few days after the election, wrote that the U.S. pivot to Asia is dead and China now looks, to some countries in the region, more stable than the United States. International recruiters know that applicants from Asia represent the greatest source of future international students. (Six in 10 international students in the U.S. come from eastern or southeastern Asia or the Indian subcontinent.)

The elite colleges and universities in the United States will not be affected by national events. But there are hundreds of smaller schools whose international student enrollment will shrink if the U.S. projects a protectionist image.

Work Visas

Many international students apply to colleges and universities in the U.S. with the intention of obtaining employment after graduation. The stability of visa programs allowing this is unclear. And this happens when other countries, notably Canada, are writing laws making it easier for international students to remain in Canada and work after graduation. The Canadian immigration ministry projects that this will increase the number of international students invited to apply for permanent residency by about a third.

Undocumented Cohort

There are nearly 800,000 undocumented college students attending classes in the United States. Many schools are dependent on the enrollment of these students to help meet their bottom lines. What happens to these students in the future is again an unknown.

What can this mean for future international recruitment programs?

It remains to be seen if these perceptions become reality but if I was responsible to next year’s international student enrollment, I would begin to implement a robust Plan B.

International strategic planners should discard this year’s plans and re-visit the parts of the plans that include enrollment from the Middle East, Mexico and China, Asia.

I would look for international opportunities outside “the usual suspects.” The pieces in the student mobility chess game has changed. But there are opportunities to create new international markets.

More on that in future blogs.

Top Issues Facing Higher Education in 2014

January 28th, 2014 by

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Dear Colleagues,

Since we are still in the first month of the New Year, I trust you will agree with me that sharing predictions for higher education in 2014 is still acceptable. I want to share with you an excellent article written by John Ebersole for Forbes. On January 13th, Mr. Ebersole wrote the following:

Cost

The author attributes the increase in public institutions’ tuition and fees over the past five years to decreased tax support. It is important to note that 75% of all students in the United States study in public colleges and universities. Cost continues to top the list of concerns for President Obama, Congress and the public.

Accreditation

The author believes that accreditation reform will pick up steam in 2014. Both political and policy communities believe that the current system of accreditation is one of the biggest problems facing higher education in the United States today.

Competency-Based Education

After all the hype dies down about MOOCs, the big elephant in the room will be competency-based education. (I agree with the author that MOOCs are yesterday’s news.)

CBE assesses a student’s ability to apply learning already acquired rather than the attainment of new learning. Some schools in the U.S. have already initiated CBE, like Southern New Hampshire University. The Department of Education is supportive of CBD as is President Obama. Stay tuned. This could be the real game changer for higher education this year.

Assessment

Both regulators and accreditors are moving away from input statistics and focusing on outcomes. Simply put: what did students learn in college and what was the return on the financial investment of federal and state governments? Add to this chorus employers who cannot find an adequate number of college graduates to fill employment vacancies.

Leadership Crisis

According to an American Council on Education report two decades ago the average age of college and university presidents was 52. Today it is 61. The need to prepare new leaders in higher education clearly has arrived.

Certainly there are many other issues facing higher education today both in the United States and around the world. Many schools in the United States continue to face enrollment declines and are either unable or unwilling to pivot to new administrative structures that could help to reverse the decline. The traditional higher education silos are alive and well but this may be the year to put rigid systems to rest. One example: enrollment managers and career counselors writing strategic recruitment plans together. The time has come to anticipate new enrollment patterns and study the trends that will determine the schools that will thrive in the future and those that will not.

 

Sink or Swim: A guide to College Graduation Rates

September 24th, 2013 by

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College graduation usually conjures up images of black hats getting thrown into the air and refrains of pomp and circumstance. What you don’t see, however, is the swell who started at the same time as the robe-clad flock but aren’t graduating — a number that would triple the size of grads (and make the ceremony even longer). In fact, at four-year colleges only 31.3% of students actually graduate from the school. The other 68.7% might be sitting at home, working a job that doesn’t require a degree, or maybe they’re still chipping away at the books after switching majors or signing up for a lengthy program. The latter is evident: The number swells to 56% who graduate within six years of starting. On the surface, it might seem like today’s student is lazy or lacks follow-through, but a closer examination reveals steep costs of schooling and family responsibilities a bigger decision-maker for college dropouts. Of course, the numbers vary widely across colleges, with some earning gold stars for graduating their students and others earning the nickname “dropout factories.” We take a closer look at the best and worst of 2-year and 4-year schools to help degree-seekers navigate to a college that will help them stay afloat.  Please veiw the excellant graphic at the link below.

http://www.onlinecolleges.net/sink-or-swim/

 

 

More MOOC’s Information

August 27th, 2013 by

There is a wonderful quote attributed to Sam Goldwyn:

“Never make forecasts, especially about the future.”

Hardly a day goes by without reading some new information about the potential impact of MOOCs on higher education.  In colleges and universities around the United States and around the world, conversations and debates, pro and con some integration of MOOCs with traditional classroom instruction, take place daily.

At the risk of forecasting the future of MOOCs in higher education, I would like to share with you the following information:

In the March 22, 2013 issue of “The Chronicle of Higher Education,” faculty who are teaching or who have taught a MOOC, were asked to comment on their experience.  Forty-five percent of the faculty who completed the survey believes that MOOCs will eventually reduce the cost of higher education.  Nearly 80% believe that MOOCs are worth the hype and that the courses should be integrated into the traditional system of awarding credit.

The American Council on Education has endorsed five Coursera MOOCs and is reviewing three from Udacity.

On March 20, 2013, the State University of New York’s Board of Trustees endorsed a plan to expand online programs.  Faculty in the SUNY system was encouraged to create MOOCs.

California Senate Bill 520 creates the opportunity for California residents to take certain online courses for credit.  If the bill passes, and is approved by Governor Jerry Brown, California colleges and universities could be compelled to accept MOOCs for credit.

Some universities, including Arizona State, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Arkansas, will select existing MOOCs in a new program, called Academic Partnerships’ MOOC2Degree.  Students who successfully complete a MOOC2Degree course will earn academic credits toward a degree.

In the March 13, 2013 “New York Times” article, Thomas Friedman writes about the global impact of MOOCs.  Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel’s course on Justice had 20 million views in China.  Information released by edX supports the assumption that MOOCs have a global appeal.  Approximately 70% of the students who have signed up for their courses come from outside the United States. Professor Wang Defeng of Fudan University in Shanghai, taught more than I,1000 students in his class,”Introduction to Philosophy.”

Coursera has 2.8 million unique registered users and this month added 29 colleges and universities in the United States and around the world.

Final Thoughts

Although a great deal of information is available about the potential academic impact of MOOCs, there is little written about the impact on the administrative structure of colleges and universities if MOOCs become an accepted part of how students study and how they graduate.  The work of enrollment managers, admission deans and counselors, retention managers and registrars will have to change to accommodate the new academic structure.

Contact me if you are interested in more information on the potential of MOOCs on higher education administrative structures.  I promise a lively discussion.

Studying the Long-Term Effects of Online Education

July 2nd, 2013 by

 


Online learning has grown into an integral element of higher education. No longer an experimental novelty practiced by a handful of tech-loving pioneers, digital classrooms have enjoyed a steady surge in popularity for their low cost and ease of access. But you can’t change the way people approach learning without permanently impacting a few things along the way. Recent studies offer plenty of insight when it comes to better understanding how online and blended courses influence the students enrolled in them. And current trends and undertakings might reveal some of the possible hamstrings they might encounter — and, thankfully, some of their possible solutions.

Table of Contents

AS IT STANDS NOW

According to the Sloan Consortium, more than 6.7 million American college students are currently enrolled in at least one online course. This follows a steady increase from previous years, and educators these days generally look upon blended or wholly Internet-based classes favorably. Seventy-seven percent reported that they believe that the learning outcomes for such courses met or exceeded those of the traditional in-person options. And when it comes to administrators, 69.1% say online education is a major component of their future plans.

The U.S. Department of Education’s 2010 evaluation of online learning unearthed compelling reasons to keep providing digital classrooms. Like the Sloan Consortium after it, the organization noted that students from online classes display the same amount of competence as their counterparts; however, they did not see the same examples of them performing above the stated objectives. Individuals enrolled in blended courses merging online and face-to-face educational strategies yielded the highest results of all. These findings provide schools with more evidence towards greater on-campus tech integration.

Because online education has proven itself a viable alternative — if not outright replacement in some instances — to brick-and-mortar institutions, it is now available for military personnel and their qualified dependents using the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Even if they enroll in Internet-based degree programs, they receive a living stipend, just like their equivalents in more traditional classrooms. Most online education options have by and large proven themselves well worth the investment.

The COST of Going to Class

And with tuition at more traditional colleges and universities increasing, online schooling might very well supplant face-to-face in the coming years. College Board findings noted that the published tuition and fees for public, four-year schools “increased by 31% beyond the rate of inflation over the five years from 2002-03 to 2007-08, and by another 27% between 2007-08 and 2012-13.”

If these numbers continue to rise, the comparatively low cost of online courses and programs might force more and more students toward them. Education experts, investors, and innovators agree. Brick-and-mortar schools cannot survive unless they become more affordable.

As The New York Times noted in 2008, gas prices also impact the decision regarding which type of classroom students opt to enter — digital or face-to-face. The same sentiment holds true now, when the national average hovers around $3.776 per gallon. So many economic factors influence the sustainability of online education, all of them currently favoring its status as a permanent option.

Size Really Does Matter

Although they’ve been around since 2008, it wasn’t until 2012 that massive open online courses (MOOCs) hit the mainstream. Although these classes, with enrollment in the hundreds or thousands, have made education more accessible for many students, they aren’t without their downsides. The Sloan Consortium study discovered that despite all the press and positivity levied towards MOOCs, most professors and academics remain skeptical regarding their efficacy.

And these concerns are not unfounded. While online classes’ more “traditional” form typically engages and educates on par with face-to-face learning, MOOCs still need some maintenance to meet these standards. Ten percent of students (or fewer) enrolled in these courses complete them, with 20% held up as a victory. Only 9.4% of American schools plan to incorporate MOOCs into the curriculum, and just 2.6% have them already. It’ll take some tweaking and following through on these promises of democratizing the learning process before more colleges and universities embrace the relatively new approach.

The Physical Tolls of Online Learning

Because the structure of online courses places learners behind a computer or smartphone screen all day, concerns unique to them arise — and require addressing. Research may prove that pursuing an Internet-based class or degree plan undeniably proves a fine academic undertaking. But that doesn’t mean that potential issues should go ignored.

Face-to-face interaction is a necessity in social education, and even advocates of online lessons believe the best programs need to account for this discrepancy. Sherry Turkle’s 2011 book Alone Together analyzes how the rapid influx of technology has dramatically altered human communication. Digital spaces provide more conduits for connecting with others than ever before in history, but the MIT professor noted how they also promote more instances of loneliness and inauthenticity.

Mental health isn’t the only concern: optometrists worry about the physiological side effects of spending too much time on a computer. An estimated 50% to 90% of individuals behind the screen suffer from some degree of eye strain as a direct result of their technology usage. For the ones with astigmatism and other visual impairments, this means even further damage over time. Computer Vision Syndrome could escalate and compromise ocular health if online education entirely overtakes the traditional campus. At the present moment, all enrollees can do is adjust their screen settings and take regular breaks to give their eyes a rest.

How Things Can Get Better

“Learning needs to become more open, mobile, social, and analytical because today’s students — active learners — demand it,” says Stacey Fontenot, Vice President of Product Marketing, Academic Platforms at Blackboard. Just because there are concerns regarding online education doesn’t mean it needs to disappear altogether, especially since most of the concerns have fixes in place or currently being developed.

“Engagement with the learning should always be the primary focus (after the content itself), and that means dynamic, participatory experiences,” she continues. “The question isn’t whether education tools are physical or digital, but rather which tools are interactive and which ones are static. Digital is not a requirement, but adaptive and flexible are … The new education experience will be more consistent with what teachers and learners have come to expect from current technology.”

MOOCs are only about five years old, which means educators are still looking for comparatively solid strategies. It stands to reason that more schools will warm to the idea of online courses for hundreds of students once the pioneers discern how to approach the inherent problems; some of the solutions will come simply from trial and error. In November 2012, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated more than $13 million toward 12 grants experimenting with the MOOC format. Nine of these went to colleges such as Georgia Institute of Technology (which partners with provider Coursera) and University of Wisconsin (whichpartners with Desire2Learn). All of these schools and their associates plan to develop MOOCs in subjects like English and math, tracking the positives and negatives along the way.

Even beyond the generous Gates Foundation gifts, other progress in the MOOC sector might reveal the tactics necessary to keep them for phasing out into just another higher education fad. The MOOC2Degree initiative offers free, professionally developed courses that participating institutions accept for credit. Major MOOC provider Udacitynow proctors final exams for its Intro to Computer Science course, thanks to its relationship with Pearson. University of Colorado accepts transfer credit for select Udacity courses. All of these pushes might hopefully uncover a valid solution for the retention issues currently inspiring skepticism and apathy. Improving MOOCs could very well lead to spreading the perks of online classrooms to even more students.

Another way to increase MOOCs’ sustainability might involve incorporating more social media, blogs, and wikis. Pearson studies noted that 33.8% of higher education professionals now include at least one of these tools in their curricula. Although wikis and blogs remain the most popular media, all the aforementioned digital resources increase student engagement and knowledge retention. Both of these benefits might promote MOOCs as an attractive option in due time.

Collaborative textbooks, sometimes in wiki format, open up even more possibilities for greater learning opportunities. These not only make education more accessible through teamwork, but they often lower the cost of required reading materials as well — if they don’t eliminate them altogether. One of the most show-stopping examples of an effective multimedia textbook is Smarthistory. Run by Khan Academy, professional art historians and other approved contributors lend their knowledge, photos, and more to cover the entirety of humanity’s creative achievements in the visual arts. For free. The Dynamic Textbook Project, presented by University of California, Davis, provides an ever-changing online academic environment where allowed participants promote the STEM fields. Visitors receive a comprehensive look at chemistry, biology, physics, geology, and more at no cost. Visitors who truly love these industries and have something to offer are encouraged to contribute to the overarching body of work.

Blackboard also embraces the push toward group efforts with its upcoming xpLor initiative. Teachers upload course materials, and their contemporaries or students (or both) alter them as they see fit. Everyone enjoys a chance to contribute their own creativity and perspectives in a dynamic environment, rather than merely downloading an assignment and working straight from the instructions. Built-in copyrighting and Creative Commons tools allow educators to share work for others to alter without worrying about plagiarism. “Versioning” help them keep track of changes without requiring loads of documents. The xpLor initiative launches in summer 2013.

The socialization might bother some parents and educators, but they don’t need to worry. K12 Inc.’s 2009 study on the subject, which focused on the comparatively more vulnerable kindergarten through high school demographics rather than higher ed, proved that students enrolled in full-time online courses boasted social skills at or exceeding their mainstream classroom counterparts. Just because their classes take place on the Internet does not mean they completely disconnect from kids their own age. While they foster many of their communication and collaboration skills online, they do participate in field trips and extracurricular activities for face time.

At the college level, Meetup.com groups based around online courses are available for study groups, field trips, and general hangouts. Students hoping to collaborate face to face take advantage of the site (Facebook as well) to organize a wide variety of events, so they never have to fret over slipping into antisocialism. MOOC leader Udacity tackled the problem with its laudable Udacity Meetup efforts. More than 3,000 students in nearly 500 cities participate in the offline communities to share their love of collaborative learning beyond the digital walls.

In the long term, online education seems destined to keep traveling a positive path. Some aspects, particularly when it comes to guarding against vision loss and building sustainable MOOCs, still require some adjustment. But more studies and more experiments will hopefully unveil more solutions. For now, though, the overall student and professor reports illustrate how things are and will probably continue to be largely fine in the online learning classroom.