International Student Mobility and the New World Disorder
Let me be clear. This blog is a promotion for my book. I am passionate about the subject matter and am convinced that the ways in which international students were recruited in the past will longer be the methods used to recruit them in the future.
Based on ten years of research and written with insight and creativity, International Student Mobility and the New World Disorder and Practical Recommendations for International Enrollment Managers, Deans and Recruiters expands the marketplace of ideas and offers readers multiple approaches to planning and implementing strategic international programs and recruiting future international students.
In Part 1 of this book the author makes the case for how recent political, economic, societal and technological trends throughout the world have, and will continue, to impact future international student mobility. The negative impact of the Brexit vote and the 2016 presidential election in the United States on future international student mobility are outlined in detail.
Current international student mobility trends, the Asian pivot, and the rise of different worldwide educational hubs will allow the reader to peer into the future of likely student migrations.
In Part 2 the author lists practical recommendations for dealing with the new realities of future international student mobility, poses 40 questions to ask before writing a strategic international student recruitment plan and lists the elements of successful and unsuccessful international student recruitment plans. Part 2 concludes with listing over 100 practical suggestions for how to increase international student enrollment.
Part 3 presents examples of how to audit and assess international programs and lists an appendix of reports for international managers and deans.
The dark alchemy of disruption and unpredictability demand a new way of thinking and planning. Whether a college or university enjoys a robust international student recruitment program or is just beginning to develop one, International Student Mobility and the New World Disorder will provide insights and recommendations for how to effectively deal with the new world disorder.
Marguerite J. Dennis is an internationally recognized expert on creating strategic international plans and international student recruitment programs. She is the author of six books on higher education, two books on trends in international higher education and more than 200 articles on higher education in the United States and international higher education. She has served as a consultant to colleges and universities in Asia and the Middle East and is a member of the Board of Trustees of Regent’s University London and is member of the Advisory Board for the Observatory on Borderless Education.
The New Silk Road and Future International Student Mobility
The original Silk Road, established during the Han dynasty, beginning around 130 B.C., created a string of markets and trading posts from Antioch, across the Syrian desert, through Iraq and Iran to the former capital of China, Xian.
In 2013, China’s President Xi Jinping announced the “One Belt, One Road,” initiative. The infrastructure project is estimated to cost more than a trillion dollars and involves 68 countries south and west of China, along the historic Silk Road. China’s overarching aim is to construct a network of ports, railways and pipelines that will plug China into economic hubs across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. When complete, the Belt and Road will connect approximately 65 percent of the world’s population. According to David Dollar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, China loans about $40 million a year to developing countries.
This integration will inevitably strengthen Chinese economic, political and maritime power in the region, and by extension, educational collaborations with regional colleges and universities.
What does all this have to do with future international recruitment? China’s higher education initiatives include increasing the number of international students studying on Chinese campuses to 500,000 by 2020.
One example of Chinese higher education expansion was the founding of the Asian Universities Alliance in 2017 with an initial membership of 15 universities. In addition to promoting student and faculty mobility within Asia, the organization also aims to promote collaborative research among member institutions.
Another example of growing Chinese influence in higher education is providing scholarships to students from all over the world. This is most evident in Africa. In 2003, there were 2,000 African students studying in China. By 2015, the number had increased to 50,000.
China’s political, economic and strategic educational initiatives and its robust funding policies will pull future international students away from Western colleges and universities. Brand name schools, of course, will not be negatively impacted. But schools with low international profiles and endowments and dependent on international student revenue to meet enrollment and financial goals, will no longer be able to count on future Chinese enrollment This may not happen tomorrow. But, I predict, it will happen.
Are fewer international students enrolling in the U.S. the new normal?
I believe there is enough information, statistics and data to support my iconoclastic opinion that the recent decline in international student enrollment on U.S. colleges and universities in 2017 was not a one-off.
While it is true that colleges and universities in the United States enroll more international students than any other country, it is my hope that anyone reading this blog will realize that for years the U.S. has been losing market share of international students and there is no reason to believe that this will change anytime soon. No one should be shocked or confused by this trend. The U.S. decline of internationally mobile students can be traced back to 2000.
In 2001 there were 2.1 million students enrolled in higher education institutions worldwide. The U.S. enrolled 28 percent of these students. In 2017 4.6 million students studied outside their home countries and the U.S. enrolled 24 percent.
China, which was not even on the top ten list in 2001 now ranks third with 10 percent of international students enrolling in Chinese colleges and universities. In 2016, 70,540 Korean students enrolled on Chinese campuses. The number of Thai students studying in China was 23,044, India 18,11, Indonesia 14,714. The number of American students studying in China in 2016 was 23,838.
Canada, also not on the top ten list in 2001 enrolled 7 percent of all international students. And Russia, not listed in 2001, enrolled 6 percent of all international students in 2017. These statistics reflect a coordinated national policy of these countries to attract and enroll students from all over the world. Students today have options and they are exercising them.
Other countries reporting increasing numbers of international students are: Malaysia, Japan, Australia and Germany.
I believe it is safe to conclude that the competitiveness of the current international student market is not a new phenomenon or simply the result of the 2016 election. I think it is accurate to conclude that several other countries have been doing a very good job of attracting and enrolling international students and making them feel both welcomed and safe.
I think it is accurate to predict that U.S. colleges and universities can no longer take it for granted that they will continue to enroll more international students than any other country. America’s position in the international student marketplace has been attenuated. The biggest challenge of international deans and recruiters is to accept this fact and move forward. More on how to do that in future blogs.
Three additional reasons why the United States will continue to lose market share of future international students
In my last blog I listed six reasons why I believe the U.S. will continue to lose market share of future international students. Since that last posting I have three additional reasons I would like to share with you.
Uncertainty over travel bans
Even if the international student market was not as competitive as it is today, the uncertainty of current and future travel bans will negatively impact the enrollment of future international students to the U.S. Students have too many worldwide enrollment options and don’t have to deal with the unpredictability of U.S. government sanctions. The best international enrollment manager following the best international recruitment plan is no match for uncertainty and confusion. While the most prestigious U.S. colleges and universities may not feel the impact of recent government sanctions, less prestigious schools certainly will.
Changes to H-1B visa rules
Currently, H-1B visas are available to a maximum of 65,000 foreign workers for a period of 3 years. “Extreme vetting” requirements, introduced last year, have resulted in an increase of H-1B visa denials. And next month the Department of Homeland Security intends to eliminate the rule allowing spouses of H-1B visa employees to work in the U.S.
Let’s contrast this with China’s recently implemented visa policy. Beginning this year China is issuing long-term visas to attract skilled people to work in China. The multi-entry visas will be valid for a period of 5 to 10 years. Applications may be filed online and are free of charge. Spouses and children will be allowed to accompany the visa holder.
What impact do you think the two contrasting policies will have in the future?
Little or no “soft power” U.S. policies
As the U.S. retreats from the world stage as evidenced by withdrawing from a global climate agreement, renegotiating bilateral trade agreements and eschewing isolationist policies, China has stepped in to fill the power void. It’s “One Belt, One Road” project will propel China’s influence into all corners of the globe. Higher education will not be immune to China’s desire to dominate politically and economically.
The current decline in international student enrollment on U.S. colleges and universities is not, in my opinion, a one-off. First, international enrollment managers must acknowledge and validate this fact and second, design new strategies to meet the headwinds of change.