2019 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange – Any surprises?
Since 1948 the Institute of International Education, in collaboration with the United States’ Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, has been gathering data and publishing statistics on the number of international students enrolling on American colleges and universities, their countries of origin, and the number of Americans studying abroad. On November 19, 2019 the Institute published statistics for the 2018-19 academic year.
Newspapers like the South China Morning Post, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe all reported the following:
For the third year in a row, enrollment in American colleges and universities decreased at all academic levels. Undergraduate students declined by 2.4%. Graduate student enrollment declined by 1.3% and the number of international non-degree students declined by 5 %. Only the numbers for Optional Practical Training increased, with a 9.6 % increase over the previous year.
History of decline
In 1970, the percentage of international students enrolling in American colleges and universities was 36.7%. By 2001, the percentage was 28 and by 2017 the figure declined to 24%.
In 2015-16, international student enrollment in the United States increased by 7% from the prior year but that was a slowdown in growth from a 10% increase in 2014.
In 2016-17, international student enrollment in the United States increased 3.4%. The following year, the increase was 1.5 percent, the slowest growth since 2002 and was mostly due to an increase in the number of international students participating in Optional Practical Training, which increased by 15.8%.
In 2018, enrollment of new international students in the United States decreased 6.3 % in undergraduate programs, and 5.5% in graduate degree programs. Chinese students, who make up one-third of all international student enrollments in the United States, increased 3.6 %. However, in the previous year, the growth in Chinese student enrollments was 6.8%. Indian students, who make up nearly a fifth of all international studying in the United States, increased 5.4%. However, in the previous year, the growth in Indian student enrollments was 12.3%.
2019 International enrollment decline
A survey of international student enrollments for fall 2019 revealed a 0.9% decline in new enrollments. Approximately 51% of the more than 500 institutions surveyed reported decreases in new international student enrollments. 42% reported increases and 7% reported no change.
Recruiting agents in China and India report a softening of interest from prospective students to study in the United States.
Reasons for decline
What are all these prior statistics telling American international deans and educators? Simply, the decline and proportion of international students selecting to study in the United States has been in decline for several years. The 2019 report should not come as a surprise to anyone who follows the economic, political, and technological worldwide changes of the past several years.
The rest of the world has been creating quality international educational infrastructures that are less expensive than many schools in the United States. The rest of the world makes it easier for international students to obtain visas to study and work after graduation. In many parts of the world, the environment is safer and more welcoming than in the United States.
Many countries with robust international outreach programs are safer than many states in America. As of November 19,2019 there were 371 mass shootings in the United States. In a 2017 Open Doors report, Paul Schulmann, research manager for the Institute of International Education, reported that 80% of Indian institutions surveyed indicated safety was a concern.
Many countries have national programs to encourage international students to study. For example, when I searched for data for the University of Alberta in Canada, I first received information about the benefits of studying in Canada.
This year’s report lists efforts of the State Department and its educational offices worldwide to promote study in the United States. However, on January 3, 2019, the State Department announced that it was closing all of its offices in China that promote American education.
IIE research manager, Paul Schulman, wrote:” The political environment in the United States plays a role in declining international student enrollment, not just in terms of student perceptions, but also in the public policies that are manifestation of this environment.”
A survey conducted by Royall &Company in 2017 revealed that one-third of prospective international students were less interested in studying in the United States because of the political climate and 74% of surveyed admission officers agreed that travel bans and negative rhetoric have made it more difficult to recruit international students.
International students contribute more than $45 billion to the United States’ economy and directly or indirectly support more than 450,000 jobs. Between 8 and 10% of total net tuition comes from international students’ tuition and fees.
Higher education enrollment is projected to reach 332 million by 2030, an increase of 56%, or 120 million. How many international students will decide to enroll in the United States in the future?
Much will depend on the political environment in the United States and efforts to strengthen America’s “soft power” around the world. Much will depend on international deans and recruiters to re-visit international enrollment plans and decide to recruit students using the strategic use of technology, creating international alliances and diversifying their recruitment portfolios.
The decline in international students coming to the United States to study represents a shift not only in the perception of the value of an American degree but also a shift in the value of the educational opportunities in many other countries.
The headwinds of change can no longer de denied.
Will we be surprised next year?
Fifteen characteristics of U.S. college and university students and schools
The college and university student in the United States in 2019 is:
Older and female
Hispanic and Asian
Selecting schools based on affordability, internship programs, career counseling services, and job placement at graduation
Attending school closer to home
Attending college part-time
Enrolling in several schools and has multiple transcripts
Enrolling in schools with good service learning programs
Enrolling in schools offering competency-based options
Accumulating stackable credentials
Enrolling in classes on-line and on-campus
Enrolling in at least one Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)
Enrolling in classes on the week-end and in the evening
Attending school year round
Participating in at least one internship program
Enrolling in continuing education courses throughout life
Characteristics of U.S. colleges and universities in 2019:
Will focus on creating vision statements to replace mission statements
Will place greater emphasis on human resources and hiring practices
Will offer classes year-round, in classrooms and on-line
Will accept MOOC courses and competency based courses toward degree completion
Will offer classes and/or combined degrees with other colleges and universities both in the United States and worldwide
May be part of a merger or acquisition
Will have a chief innovation officer on staff
Will replace the traditional transcript with one that stresses outcomes and competencies for each completed course
Will partner with area businesses to offer relevant courses
Will have a robust internship program
Will abandon totally, or in part, the current tuition discounting model and current business plan through strategic and innovative uses of technology
Will create opportunities for international students to enroll in courses without leaving their home countries
Will focus on outcomes based on real time data analytics
Will abandon five year strategic plans and replace with annual strategic plans
Predictions for higher education in 2005 came true in 2019
I have often written about the folly of making predictions about the future of higher education in the United States and around the world. However, I recently came across this article and realized that the 25 predictions I made 14 years ago about the future of higher education have for the most part, become reality.
In 2005, in a monograph, Ten Trends in Higher Education, I predicted the following:
Higher education providers will become more numerous and diverse.
Part-time college attendance will increase and schools will offer more classes in the evening and on the weekend.
An increasing number of American colleges and universities will either close or merge with other institutions of higher education.
An increasing number of colleges and universities will work in partnership with employers to meet workforce needs.
Telecommunications options will become standard practice, with students taking classes at home, on campus, everywhere, anytime.
Technological capabilities will render the “traditional” semester irrelevant. Students will create their own “third” semester in the summer months.
Technological capabilities will encourage the rise of global universities.
Women, minorities, and adult learners will dominate higher education enrollments in the future.
National and state funding for higher education will decrease and private educational providers will increasingly become the funders of higher education.
International students will continue to come to the United States but colleges and universities in America will continue to lose market share of the internationally mobile student.
China will emerge as a leading importer of students.
China’s higher education strategy will create Chinese universities that will compete on the international stage.
International educational hubs in Asia and Southeast Asia will compete for the internationally mobile student.
International student enrollment will increase in the future by instead of in-person enrollment driving the increase, many international students will study online, in MOOC courses, or in hybrid programs.
Traditional colleges and universities will not disappear, but they will change organizationally and will be managed differently in the future.
A diverse student population will demand a more flexible educational delivery system. This includes when and where courses are taught, how students register for courses, and how they pay their tuition.
After all the “hype” passes, Massive Open Online Courses, online courses and stackable credentials will change how higher education is delivered.
Incoming first-year students will bring to college credits from either AP courses, IB courses, or MOOC courses.
MOOCs and online programs will increase the number of students graduating in four years as more and more students opt to study year- round.
Most students will have transcripts from more than one school.
Colleges and universities will “buy” online courses from each other.
Strategic enrollment plans will be written in conjunction with the directors of career counseling and alumni relations.
Accreditation criteria will change with more focus on outcomes.
CHANGE WILL BE OUR CONSTANT COMPANION.
Time to dust off my crystal ball for next year’s predictions.
Consider recruiting in Viet Nam
Many of my U.S. colleagues reading this blog will by now have realized that fewer Chinese students enrolled on American college and university campuses this year. The China market, I predict, will never reach the enrollment increases of the past two decades.
But I also predict that in the future more international students will enroll from Asia and Southeast Asia. Vietnam is one of the countries to consider for international recruiting and CAPSTONE VIETNAM and co-founder, Mark Ashwill, is the consultancy that can assist international deans and recruiters to craft a sustainable recruitment plan for Vietnam.
I have known Mark for more than 10 years, have used his consulting services, and can attest to his knowledge of the Vietnamese higher education market and the effectiveness of the fairs he sponsors throughout Vietnam.
The following information will be helpful to recruiting in Vietnam.
Join Capstone’s spring 2020 Study USA & Canada Higher Education Fairs from February 21st to March 1st in Hanoi, Haiphong, Danang, Nha Trang, and Ho Chi Minh City (HCCMC). Follow this link: https://recruitinvietnam.com/he22020-pr for detailed information and online registration. The early bird deadline, which entitles your institution to a 5% discount, is November 15th. Other discounts, including for Capstone partners, are available. Email Capstone managing director and co-founder, Mark Ashwill. With any questions: email@example.com.
AFRICA: The Next International Student Recruitment Frontier
Consider the following:
Six of the world’s fastest-growing economies between 2001 and 2012 were in Africa.
Goldman Sachs recently issued a report, “Africa’s Turn,” comparing business opportunities in Africa with those of China in the early 1990s.
Google is the single biggest private sector influence in Africa. Its internet search and email services are transforming the continent. The company is also attempting to help African governments digitize information and make it freely available and is improving translation software to bring more Africans who speak only one language online.
Online Africa is developing faster than offline Africa. According to the May 12th issue of “The Economist,” undersea cables reaching Africa on the Atlantic and Indian Ocean coasts, plus innovative mobile phone providers, have raised internet speeds and slashed prices. This connectivity is making Africa faster and more transparent in almost everything it does.
China will implement the African Talents Program to train 30,000 personnel, offer 18,000 government scholarships and build cultural and vocational training facilities. China will also continue to implement the China-Africa Joint Research and Exchange Plan to sponsor 100 programs for research, exchange and cooperation between colleges and universities and research scholars.
On July 17, 2012, Australia launched an expanded Australia-Africa Universities Network, a consortium of 17 Australian universities and research institutes and 30 African institutions.
Colleges and universities around the world should consider developing African recruitment strategies and begin to consider building strategic academic and research alliances. To ignore the potential of African student, faculty and administrator exchange programs is to limit a school’s ability to become a player in the next international “hotspot.”