New Book

International Student Mobility and the New World Disorder

Book Cover Marguerite J. Dennis International Student MobilityLet 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


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.


One Way to Increase Enrollment

In their book, That Used to Be Us, authors Thomas Friedman and Michael
Mandelbaum posit that the future of the United States rests firmly on the
shoulders of our education system. However, the authors report that only
25 percent of high school graduates who enroll in an undergraduate degree
program are prepared for college work and approximately 40 percent are
required to take remedial courses. Only 60 percent will graduate in six
years. And companies spend more than $3 billion annually on remedial
training. The book cites many additional negative statistics, all indications
that unless things change the United States will continue to fall further and
further behind other countries.
Higher education in the United States is a big industry, more than $500
billion in annual expenditures and many aspects of this industry are in
trouble. Currently about 18 million students are enrolled in higher education
courses, 2.4 million fewer students than were enrolled five years ago.
Enrollment is not expected to increase until 2023. In January, 2018
Moody’s Investor Service downgraded higher education from “stable” to
Many colleges and universities, especially those with little brand name
recognition and low endowments continue chasing after a shrinking pool of
qualified students. One-third of small private schools rated by Moody’s
Investor Service generated operating deficits in 2016, an increase from 20
percent three years ago.
According to Friedman, “big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly
possible meets what is desperately necessary.” Could that apply to online
learning and Massive Open Online courses as potential new sources of
recruitment and enrollment?
Generation Z is the first “phigital” generation, defined as students who do
not make a distinction between the physical world and the digital world.
How can enrollment managers, deans of admission and international
enrollment managers reach this generation of students?
Enter online and Massive Open Online courses. According to a report,
eMarketer 2016, young adults are online an average of 53 hours a week.
380 million mobile devises were purchased in the first quarter of 2017, a
9.1 percent increase over the first quarter of 2016. In the 2015-16
academic year more than 6 million American students were enrolled in a
least one online and distance education course.
Similar statistics apply to international higher education.
China ranks first in the number of Massive Open Online courses with 3,200
launched by 460 higher education institutions. 55 million Chinese have
enrolled in Massive Open Online courses including more than 6 million
university students. In 2016 the number of online Chinese online learners
increased by 23.8 percent and it is anticipated that when the statistics are
published there would be a 20.5 percent increase in 2017. That increase
would bring then number of total online learners to 100 million.
Recently the government of India approved a plan permitting 15 percent of
Indian universities to offer online degrees allowing the universities to tap
into a new market of students and adult learners who are unable to attend
on-campus classes.
In February, 2017, an agreement was signed between the 380-member
Association of African Universities and Africa’s largest online education
platform, eLearn Africa. This arrangement will allow approximately 10
million African students to access higher education through online courses
offered to member institutions.
According to a report, Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education
Report 2017, 30 percent of students worldwide are enrolled in at least one
online course.
Several years ago I wrote A Practical Guide to Enrollment and Retention
Management in Higher Education. I began the first chapter of the book with
a quote of Francis Wayland, president of Brown University, who wrote in
“Our colleges are not filled because we do not furnish the education
desired by the people. We have produced an article for which demand is
diminishing. We sell it at less than cost, and the deficiency is made up by
charity. We give it away, and the demand still diminishes.” This was written
in 1850. Could it also apply to higher education in 2018?
The jury is still out on the efficacy and impact of online learning, hybrid
learning, and massive open online courses. Many higher education
administrators and faculty argue that online learning is disruptive. Others
claim that precisely because it is disruptive online learning offers the best
hope for the future higher education enrollment. Online learning will never
replace traditional colleges and universities. But they do offer the potential
to enroll new cohorts of students for whom the traditional on-campus model
is irrelevant. And they do offer enrollment managers and admission deans
an expanded universe of students from which to recruit and enroll.



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The New Normal?

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 the US will Lose Market Share

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.