Future International Student Mobility Destination: Africa
I was recently asked by a colleague to predict the home countries of future international students. I responded by predicting that in the short-term, future international students are likely to come from countries in Asia and Southeast Asia. But in the long run, they are likely to come from Africa.
I base my prediction on the following:
The African continent is the second and most populous continent on earth. More than 1.2 billion people live in Africa. The continent has 20 percent of the world’s land and 15 percent of the world’s population.
By several estimates, the African middle class has tripled over the past 16 years, from 4.6 million households in 2000 to 15 million in 2016.
A World Bank estimate lists the African economy growing at a rate of 5 percent for the past 10 years and predicts that it will grow more than any other continent over the next 5 years. Six of the world’s fastest growing economies between 2001 and 2010 were in Africa.
In the publication, “New African,” editor Baffour Ankomah writes that the majority of the world’s natural resources are in Africa. And Africa’s vast oil and mineral reserves will be a pipeline to investments in infrastructure, health and education.
Students from Africa account now for more than 1 in 10 international students. A British Council forecast predicts that 5 two of the top 10 fastest growing 18-to22 year old populations through 2025 will be in Africa and the continent’s youth population will surpass that of Asia by 2080.
70 percent of the continent’s population have cell phones, an important statistic for online learning.
Recruiting in Africa or recruiting students from Africa is not easy. I managed an enrollment office in Dakar, Senegal for 10 years and although we enrolled students from more than 40 African countries, it was difficult. Most of the standard rules for international recruiting had to be abandoned for recruiting in an “African way.” However, I believe if a school is willing to make a long-term investment in Africa, the results will be worth both the time and resources.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.