Is this the college/university student of the future?
“Painting a vision with words carries the argument.” C.S. Lewis
I don’t know if I will succeed in convincing you, the reader, that college and university students of the future will be very different from what they are today, but I shall try.
The U.S. college/university student in the future will be:
Older and female
Hispanic and Asian
Attend school closer to home
Learn in study labs, not lecture halls
Learn using podcasts, blogs, and streamlined videos
Attend several schools and have multiple transcripts
Graduate with a double major
Graduate with stackable credentials
Enroll in schools with robust career counseling programs, job placements at graduation and manageable debt levels
Take courses online and on-campus
Take at least one Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)
Attend classes year-round
Study abroad either in the summer or for one semester
Participate in at least one internship program
Graduate with stackable credentials
Have multiple transcripts listing competencies
Take certificate and continuing education courses after graduation
I don’t know if the picture I have attempted to paint with the words in this article has convinced you that the college student of tomorrow, and by extension, the college and university of the future, will be different from what it is today. But I tried.
My next blog will attempt to define the college and university of the future. Stay tuned.
Will the United States continue to enroll more international students by 2020?
According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, international students contributed nearly $40 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016 and supported more than 450,000 jobs. Dr. Dick Startz, an economics professor at the University of Santa Barbara, puts the figure even higher at $50 billion.
According to the Institute for International Education the United States has led the world in the number of enrolled international students since records have been compiled.
However, there is ample evidence to suggest that this may be changing. The number of international students enrolled on U.S. colleges and universities declined by four percent between 2016 and 2017. On the graduate level, the number of international students enrolled in science and engineering decreased by 14,730, or six percent between 2016 and 2017.
The latest statistics from the State Department indicate a 17 percent decline in 2017 in the number of F-1 visas issued to international students, a 28 percent decline in the number of visas granted to Indian students and a 24 percent decline in visas issued to Chinese students. A combined 78,000 ewer international students were granted visas in 2017 compared with 2016.
The reasons for the decline are many: increased competition from other countries, especially Canada, Australia, China and Southeast Asian countries. The U.S. Muslim travel ban, greater scrutiny by consular officials of student visa applicants, uncertainty about the regulations for international students to work after graduation under the Optional Practical Training program, difficulty to obtain H-1B visas and the uncertainty over potentially new regulations that may limit the number of visas granted to Chinese students. (In 2016-17 Chinese students accounted for a third of all international students studying in the United States and contributed $ 12 billion to the U.S. economy.)
Many colleges and universities in the United States rely heavily on the income from international students to subsidize national students to meet enrollment and financial goals. The schools with brand name recognition will likely continue to enroll the number of foreign students they want or need. But second and third-tier institutions, both public and private, are most likely to experience declines in the number of international students enrolling on their campuses.
I, for one, believe that in time the United States will lose, or share, the number one spot with other countries who are aggressively and successfully enrolling a greater share of internationally mobile students. China, with nearly a half million students enrolled on Chinese campuses today and with the One Belt One Road educational initiatives in countries worldwide, may, in time, take over the number one spot in international student enrollments.
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.