In March 2018 the 2018 QS Applicant Survey Report published the results of a global survey of study abroad students and the preferred countries of internationally mobile students.
The survey revealed the following:
While the United States and the United Kingdom remain the preferred study destinations, the survey results also revealed that both countries are losing market share to other destinations, especially Canada, Germany and Australia.
The “Trump Effect” and Brexit appear to be key (negative) factors in student preferences.
Countries offering classes in English and with low tuition or scholarship programs (like Germany) have experienced increased applications from international students.
The United States has received fewer applicants from students in several countries in the Middle East. The reasons are well known to anyone reading this article or newspapers.
For the first time, China emerged at the eighth most popular international student destination. This is a reflection, among other reasons, of the significant scholarships awarded to students in countries in China’s Belt and Road initiative.
There are other trends affecting international student mobility worth noting:
Southeast and East Asia are increasingly popular among international students.
Key factors include:
Low tuition and living costs
Proximity to home
English language courses and
Improvement in rankings
While these surveys reflect a point in time, March 2018, I think it safe to predict that when international student enrollments are reported in the fall, these statistics will hold and reflect the changes in international student preferences and mobility patterns. I don’t think this is a one-year phenomena. There is ample data to suggest that these changes have been occurring “sub rosa” for quite some time.
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.
Snapshot: Where are international students enrolling?
I don’t think it necessary to wait until fall 2018 enrollment numbers are known to predict which countries will continue to increase their market share of international students.
Let’s begin with Australia
According to data published in October 2017, international student enrollment increased by 13 percent over the previous year and contributed AUS$29 billion to the Australian economy.
In January of this year Indonesia announced that it will open its doors to foreign universities looking to operate in the country. One of the countries that should benefit from this ruling is Australia. Two top Australian universities, the University of Melbourne and the University of Queensland, have already expressed interest in operating in Indonesia.
Australia has emerged as the preferred destination for Indian students, a direct response, it is reported, to the anti-immigrant rhetoric of the UK and the US. The number of Indian students studying in Australia has soared to a seven-year high. As of November 2017, more than 68,000 Indian students were studying in Australia colleges and universities, an increase of 14.65 percent over the previous year.
The enrollment of Indian students in Canadian universities has been steadily increasing since 2015. By 2016, enrollment topped 100,000, an increase of 63 percent.
Enrollments from China have also increased over the past three years. The Canadian government has opened seven new visa centers in China to accommodate the increasing demand from Chinese students.
For the past three years international student enrollments in South Korea have increased. In 2017 enrollment increased 19 percent over the previous year. South Korea now hosts nearly 125,000 international students. China remains the most important market for South Korean colleges and universities. 55 percent of all international students studying in South Korea are Chinese.
In 2016, the Taiwanese government developed a “New Southbound Policy,” aimed at closer collaboration with ASEAN countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
By 2017 the number of Taiwanese students studying in ASEAN countries increased 13.5 percent. The number of students from southbound countries enrolling in Taiwanese colleges and universities increased by nearly 10 percent.
Germany’s international student enrollment increased for the 2016-17 academic year and totaled 360,000. In the prior year, the number was 340,000. Germany has set a target of enrolling 350,000 students by 2020, a target that appears to be easily reached.
I do not wish to perform cosmetic surgery on the truth. But the facts speak for themselves: the pivot to Asia has occurred and colleges and universities in “traditional” Western countries will no longer enroll international students in the numbers they have over the past quarter century.