Five Myths

Five myths, five international enrollment projections and one disturbing report


“Get your facts first, and then you can distort as much as you please.”

                                                                                           Mark Twain



The United States leads the world in attracting international students.


In 1970, the percentage of international students enrolling in American colleges and universities was 36.7 percent. By 2001, the percentage was 28 and by 2017 the figure declined to 24 percent.

In 2017, the United States increased the number of new international students by 3.0 percent. But in the same year Canada increased the number of enrolled international students by 20.0 percent and Australian numbers increased by 13.0 percent. Germany’s international student numbers increased by 5.5 percent and France’s numbers increased by 4.6 percent.

The United States may enroll more international students than any other country but it continues to lose market share. Other countries, especially China, with a more than ten percent annual increase in international student enrollment, are catching up fast.


The demand for higher education is greatest in Europe.


The demand for higher education in Asia far exceeds that of Europe. With a population of more than 600 million under the age of 18, and with the rapid pace of social and economic changes taking place in the region, Asian students are poised to enroll in tertiary education more than any other region in the world.


The Asian middle class has grown faster than any other region in the world.


While the Asian middle class has increased over the past two decades, the African middle class has tripled over the past 14 years from 4.6 million households in 2000 to 15 million in 2016.


Great Britain continues to be the number one choice for American students studying abroad.


The fastest growing market for American students studying abroad is Germany. Most of the students pay no tuition and many of the courses are taught in English. The uncertainty surrounding Great Britain’s leaving the European Union may be impacting where American students study abroad.


The fastest growing Chinese market will be at the graduate and undergraduate level.


Chinese teenagers, as young as 14, are enrolling in high schools throughout the world in increasing numbers. In 2016, the number of Chinese students enrolled in high schools was over 50,000. This is 100 times more than in 2004.


Five international enrollment projections

Higher education enrollment is projected to reach 332 million by 2030, an increase of 56 percent, or 120 million, from 2015.

The number of internationally mobile students is projected to be 6.9 million by 2030, an increase of 51 percent, or 2.3 million students.

By 2030, there will be 163 million more adults with a college degree compared to 2013.

More than half of all people around the world, 3.97 billion, live in just seven countries: China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, and Nigeria. China, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Bangladesh are expected to be the biggest international student growth markets in the future. International deans and recruiters are well served to study and further research this projection.

I believe future international strategic plans should be based on data-driven research of the countries with the greatest potential for future enrollment.

One disturbing report

The recently released British Council report, International student mobility to 2027: Local investment, local outcomes, predicts a slowing of outbound student mobility over the next decade. Information is drawn from UNESCO and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs/Population Division, along with data from Oxford Economics. A decreasing number of Chinese students studying abroad is part of the reason for the projected decline as is an increase in local higher education opportunities and online accessibility.




This entry was posted in Colleges, Foreign Students, International Education, International students by Marguerite Dennis. Bookmark the permalink.

About Marguerite Dennis

Marguerite Dennis has been recruiting internationally for over 25 years, first at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and then at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. During that time she was responsible for establishing a branch campus for Suffolk University in Dakar, Senegal and Madrid, Spain. Marguerite increased the international student population at Suffolk University by 193% from 1993 to 2011 and increased the number of study abroad programs by 135%, from 20 to 47. She monitored the recruitment programs for Suffolk University in 20 countries and hired a network of 10 international educational consultants. She signed agreements in Viet Nam, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Germany, Mexico, France and Argentina.

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