International Alumni and Fundraising Program

May 7th, 2019 by



International Alumni and Fundraising Program- Part 1



Creating International Alumni Clubs

Over the course of my administrative career, I had the opportunity to be responsible not only for the enrollment and retention of international students but also for creating international alumni and fundraising programs.

This “30,000 foot” view allowed me to integrate the international recruitment program with international alumni and fundraising activities.

While this administrative structure would not work at many schools and is certainly not for the faint of heart, it does have advantages. My next two blog posts will outline the steps I took to create international alumni clubs and how I raised money from international parents.

If you are responsible for enrolling international students, you may want to share this blog post with the administrators in your school responsible for alumni programs.

If you want to develop an international alumni program, you should begin before international students register for classes.

I would meet with all of the admission counselors and ask them to identify the international students they recruited who enrolled and who would be good candidates for becoming class agents. We began, at this early stage in the international students’ academic career, to groom graduates to support international alumni activities after graduation.

I created an international convocation and orientation program for both new international students and parents and began the “friend raising” process before classes began.

We created a robust international student services program and international students were encouraged to become actively involved in international student activities. A specific administrator in the Center for International Education continued the cultivation process over the next four years.

Fast forward to the beginning of senior year. Students who demonstrated an interest in participating in international alumni activities were introduced to the director of alumni affairs and were given the rules and regulations of how to become a class agent and set up an international alumni club.

I will not pretend that this was an easy thing to do. Anytime the staffs of international students, student services and alumni affairs are asked to work together synergistically, turf wars erupt. But it can administratively work and in my case, it did.

I was able to create five international alumni clubs. The international graduates in those clubs assisted our international recruitment program. They met with prospective international applicants from their country and encouraged them to apply. It was a meaningful way for international students to stay connected and added credibility to our international recruitment program.

In my next blog I will share with you how I raised funds from international parents.

Chinese economic facts

April 2nd, 2019 by


Let’s examine some aspects of the Chinese economy and the implications for future international recruitment and enrollment of Chinese students


Economic facts

Most higher education institutions worldwide have an interest in recruiting and
enrolling Chinese students or engaging in joint research projects with Chinese
academics and scholars. Because I believe future higher education in China
cannot be separated from the country’s $14 trillion-dollar economy, I have
researched certain facts about China’s economy that I think are relevant to future
engagement with China.
Despite often contradictory facts and figures published about the Chinese
economy, there are a few facts that cannot be disputed. The Chinese economy is
slowing and is in transition, moving from a manufacturing economy to a
technology- based economy. The trade war with the United States has negatively
impacted the Chinese economy, and several countries in China’s Belt and Road
projects, including Malaysia and Sri Lanka, are questioning the value of Chinese
investment in their countries’ infrastructure.
In February 2019, 5,000 delegates of the National People’s Congress convened in
Beijing for the annual meeting on the country’s economy. Chinese Premier Li
Keqiang informed delegates that the projected growth of the Chinese economy
this year would be lower than the 6.6 percent growth of last year. The Chinese
economy is expected to grow between 6.0 and 6.5 percent, the slowest in three
It is interesting to note that the Premier’s address made no mention of the “Made
in China 2025”, although China remains committed to enhancing industrial
development and technology innovation. The Premier did warn of the potential
risks to the Chinese economy of excessive borrowing. ($119 billion higher than in
2018.) China’s total debt has risen from 150 percent of GDP to nearly 300 percent.
This is a cloud not only over the Chinese economy but over the world economy.
China still exports nearly $500 billion annually but its share of global exports
appears to have peaked. China can no longer rely on the rest of the world for
Chinese investment in Europe and in the United States decreased 73 percent in
2018. China is looking elsewhere to build alliances and change the geopolitical
map, especially through its Belt and Road initiatives.
Interesting facts
With the blessing of the Chinese government, Chinese families are expected to
buy 60 percent of the world’s electric cars by 2035.
Since 2012 China has been the world’s biggest source of tourists, making nearly
150 million trips in 2018 and spending more than $250bn in 2017. This is an
extraordinary statistic since only 10 percent of Chinese people hold passports.
According to Global Blue, a tax-free-shopping firm, Chinese visitors bought more
than one-quarter of all tax-free products sold in Britain in 2018. Chinese shoppers
account for one-third of all global spending on luxury goods.
One percent of the richest Chinese hold one-third of all household assets; income
inequality is a pressing issue in China.
There are more billionaires in China than in the United States.
In 2017, 175,489 Cadillac cars were sold in China, the first time more Caddillacs
were sold in China than in the United States.
Higher education facts
According to a report by Hurun, a Shanghai-based research firm, of the nearly 3
million Chinese citizens who earn over $1 million a year, 85 percent intend to
send their children abroad to be educated.
In 2018 the Chinese Minister of Higher Education cancelled 234 higher education
agreements, or one-fifth of its international university partnerships worldwide,
including more than 25 with American colleges and universities. The reasons
given were ambiguous.
There are 37 China Cultural Centers around the globe and another 13 are planned
to open by the end of 2020. The purpose of the centers is to promote Chinese
culture similar to Germany’s Goethe Institutes and France’s Alliances Franchises.
In 2016, more than 430,000 Chinese students returned to China after completing
their education abroad, nearly 60 percent more than returned in 2011.
Connect the dots
If you believe, as I do, that a country’s economy will eventually and ultimately
affect its higher education sector, I suggest international enrollment managers
and admission deans take a look at their current China recruitment plan and
perhaps come up with a Plan B. Will Chinese parents in the future be willing or
financially able to send their children around the world for higher education when
Chinese colleges and universities are now ranked among the best in the world?
I believe there are recruitment and enrollment opportunities in China but I also
believe they will be distinctly different from how Chinese students were recruited
in the past.

Will China dominate international higher education enrollment future?

April 2nd, 2019 by

Will China dominate international higher education enrollment future?

“China harbors long-term designs to rewrite the existing global order.”

James Mattis, Former Secretary of Defense, United States



I don’t know if Secretary Mattis’ quote would apply to international higher education but I believe there are enough statistics to support the premise that part of China’s plan to rewrite the existing global order also includes higher education domination.

The following statistics support this premise.

Twenty years ago there were 3.4 million college and university students in China. Today there are more than 26 million. In 2017 nearly 490,000 international students studied in China, an increase of 10.5 percent from the previous year.  Since 2004, the number of international students enrolling in Chinese colleges and universities increased by nearly 300 percent.

Last year China edged out Germany as the third most popular destination for international students and could soon overtake Britain, Australia, and Canada for increased international student enrollment.

China has made a long-term investment in higher education. The country’s One Belt, One Road initiative enrolled, and will continue to enroll, students from the countries along the ancient Silk Road. Last year 317,000 international students who enrolled in China were from Belt and Road countries and two-thirds of all international students studying in China are from Belt and Road countries.

China has significantly increased enrollment of African students by offering generous scholarship and employment opportunities. In 2017, 12 percent, or nearly 59,000 African students, studying in China, received scholarship assistance.

It is by design, rather than by accident, that the number of international students continues to increase significantly each year.  Chinese tuition and fees are lower than most other universities. Tuition and fees for one year of study in China is approximately $3,200. The number of English taught programs has increased by 63 percent in the last five years and that has attracted students from around the world.

A new visa policy allowing international students to work and remain in China after graduation is also another factor attracting a global international student population. According to China’s National Development and Reform Commission, 89 percent of international students studying in China plan to pursue short-term internships and 95 percent plan to take advantage of China’s policy of allowing foreigners to work after graduation.

In 2017, China was the most popular destination for Asian and Southeast Asian international students, including students from South Korea, Thailand, Pakistan, India, Japan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, and Laos.

In October 2018, The Jakarta Post reported that there are currently 68,000 Indonesian students studying in China and the Chinese government has set a goal of increasing that number to 100,000.

China is now the leading host for international branch campuses, edging out the United Arab Emirates.

In 2015, Xiamen University, in collaboration with the Malaysian government, opened up its first international branch campus abroad.

China is the largest source of doctoral students worldwide. Most of these students are concentrated in critical, scientific fields.

According to Ian Bremmer, China is investing huge sums in artificial intelligence, robotics and data management that will impact the balance of power in the future. Innovation and technological self-reliance are now essential to China’s future development strategy. Made in China 2025 is central to President Xi’s vision for China.

A new study by the World Intellectual Property Organization ranked 167 universities and public research universities for the top 500 patent applications. 110 of the patents were from China, 20 from the United States and 19 from South Korea.

Chinese universities are among the top 30 artificial intelligence filers. Chinese organizations make up 17 of the top 20 academic players for artificial intelligence patents and 10th of the top 20 in artificial intelligence scientific publications.

In 2018 the China State Council issued a Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Develop Plan with the goal of becoming the premier global artificial innovation center by 2030.

Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Google, predicted China’s prowess will overtake the United States within a decade.

Will China dominate international higher education enrollment in the future? These statistics would support that supposition. However, there are as many, if not more, negative statistics that would suggest the opposite. There are economic and political trade winds pushing against China’s dominance on the world stage and in higher education.

China’s prominence on the world stage and in higher education has been nothing short of sensational. Will it continue and is it sustainable? The jury is still out.



How big data can help recruitment and retention

March 19th, 2019 by


How big data can help recruitment and retention




“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.”

Sherlock Holmes

What is big data and how can it help higher education administrators to recruit and retain students?

Big data is the use of predictive analyses and user behavior to examine large amounts of data to uncover hidden patterns and correlations.

In higher education, big data and predictive analytics has the ability to construct analytical databases that can provide speedy, actionable information in order to make smart enrollment and retention decisions and allocate both staff time and financial resources to increase the enrollment and retention of students. Simply put, big data and predictive analytics has the ability to help college administrators create a set of assumptions to learn which students are likely to enroll and persist.

Since the 2000s, with the increased focus on accountability in higher education, higher education administrators have used technology to provide insights into student choice, engagement and success. The principles of big data have also been applied to curriculum development, registration procedures, and library use. In the future, big data may be applied to alumni and fundraising programs.

Several colleges and universities are already using big data and predictive analytics in their recruitment and retention campaigns. For example, Florida Polytechnic University uses analytics to focus on specific enrollment markets and increase the university’s yield rate.

Georgia State University, with a student enrollment of more than 24,000 undergraduates, uses predictive analytics to increase its retention rate. University retention officials have developed more than 700 red flags aimed at helping advisors determine which students are likely to withdraw and persist. The universities of Michigan, Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Colorado and Denver, as well as Miami Dade College, are among schools using analytics to improve progression and graduation rates.

The value of producing reliable data to influence enrollment and retention programs is not without risk. For example, it is reasonable to ask what administrators do with all of the actionable information analytics reveal. Is there a college and university structure in place that allows schools to respond, in actionable time, to what the analytics reveal? In most schools this would require a shift in culture and administrative alignments.

How many enrollment and retention managers are part of a committee or team that includes the director of technology and the director of research? How many deans of admission know what triggered applicants to apply and when, in the application process, that took place?  How many directors of admission know why and when applicants decided not to apply?

The same questions could be applied to progression and retention programs. How many directors or deans of retention have intervention practices based on analytics beginning before enrollment and continuing to first and second semester trigger points? How many directors of retention have a profile of the persister as well as the dropout?

In order to effectively and efficiently use big data and predictive analytics it is necessary to ask the right questions. It also requires the ability to “drill down” from massive data to implement change. Martin Lindstrom, an international educator, calls this “small data,” or small clues that uncover huge trends. Clearly there are limitations of using big data.

Data collection and a commitment to insight and discovery are key elements but if there is not a structure in place to use the information, the analytics will simply be relegated to a shelf in someone’s office.

Flexibility will be the currency of higher education in the future and data analytics and predictive modeling are two of the tools necessary to bring flexibility into strategic planning.

Big data has the ability to unearth the meaningful differences between your school and your competitors, allowing the marketing and admission teams to leverage differences, rather than similarities, into future outreach programs.

Big data has the ability to focus on the needs and expectations of enrolled students to shape meaningful progression and graduation strategies by providing personalized assistance for enrolled students.

For a number of reasons, the future of higher education both in the United States, and around the world, is in flux. Moving from standalone data to actionable information, from uncertainty to accountability, deserves consideration.




Recommendations for colleges and universities to avoid closing or merging

March 5th, 2019 by

college students

Recommendations for colleges and universities to avoid closing or merging



In last month’s column I shared facts about college and university closings and mergers. Since that time Green Mountain College in Vermont announced that it would close at the end of the spring 2019 semester and Hampshire College in New Hampshire announced it was seeking a suitable merger partner.

The following are two recommendations for vulnerable institutions to consider to avoid closing or merging. This list is by no means exhaustive. My recommendations are based on the belief that higher education is moving from a provider-driven model to a consumer-driven one.

Identify new markets and revenue streams

In their 2015 book, Blue Ocean Strategy, authors W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne advise companies and organizations to identify untapped markets currently not in existence, create new demand and open up new and uncontested market space. I believe the same principles can, and should, be applied to higher education. College and university presidents and provosts should, after reviewing current offerings and academic portfolios, consider new educational offerings that could attract potential “blue ocean” students not currently enrolled. A new strategic enrollment plan should combine data-driven and predictive analytics, and real-time metrics to determine how to best attract new cohorts of students.

For example, the Department of Education estimates that by 2020 one million computer science-related jobs will go unfilled unless colleges and universities graduate more students with computer science degrees. And according to a report by McKinsey Company, 17 percent of the 1.2 million current jobs openings are in the healthcare sector. Both of these examples highlight the opportunity for schools to create new programs that can not only enroll more students but work directly to meet the workforce needs in the country.

After all the hype about massive open online courses settles, the big elephant in the room, in my opinion, will be validating competency-based education as a recognized education paradigm. Allowing students to apply their work and life experiences to earn college credits opens up the “blue waters” to another cohort of students who can earn a college degree at their own pace at reduced costs. According to the global strategy company, Parthenon, more than 600 institutions are either exploring or already offer competency-based programs. Some of the programs are covered by Title IV financial aid funding.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, there are more than 31 million students with some college credits but not enough to graduate. Do competency-based programs have the potential to grow the enrollment pie?

Creative use of technology

Kevin Carey, of the New America foundation and the author of The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere, the author predicts that technology will eventually radically alter the college experience and make higher education available to millions of students.

In another book, College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education, the author, Ryan Craig, the Managing Director of University Ventures, makes the case that the role of technology cannot be underemphasized in higher education. The significant investment in higher education technology application by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation underscores the importance of technology as one way to expand educational opportunities.

The effective and efficient use of technology holds the potential to offer courses throughout the year at any time of the day or night and in any part of the world, making the fall and spring semester system a relic of the past and allowing creative deans and enrollment mangers to fish in “blue waters.”

Technology allows colleges and universities to deliver courses in several ways, on campus, online, in hybrid programs, and with competency-based credits. This variety of learning options supports several student cohorts, including traditional students, non-traditional students, international students and working adults.

According to Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, “Education in five to ten years will become modular, will become omnichannel, and will become lifelong.”

Traditional colleges and universities will not disappear, but they will change organizationally and future strategic enrollment management plans will include a creative use of technology.

Some venerable colleges and universities will need new business models, an entrepreneurial approach to developing new markets and student cohorts and a collaborative approach to solving enrollment and financial problems.

Perhaps some schools should close or merge with another institution or perhaps they should just fish in blue waters.