Future International Student Mobility Destination: Africa

Future International Student Mobility Destination: Africa

I was recently asked by a colleague to predict the home countries of future international students. I responded by predicting that in the short-term, future international students are likely to come from countries in Asia and Southeast Asia. But in the long run, they are likely to come from Africa.

I base my prediction on the following:

The African continent is the second and most populous continent on earth. More than 1.2 billion people live in Africa. The continent has 20 percent of the world’s land and 15 percent of the world’s population.

By several estimates, the African middle class has tripled over the past 16 years, from 4.6 million households in 2000 to 15 million in 2016.

A World Bank estimate lists the African economy growing at a rate of 5 percent for the past 10 years and predicts that it will grow more than any other continent over the next 5 years.  Six of the world’s fastest growing economies between 2001 and 2010 were in Africa.

In the publication, “New African,” editor Baffour Ankomah writes that the majority of the world’s natural resources are in Africa. And Africa’s vast oil and mineral reserves will be a pipeline to investments in infrastructure, health and education.

Students from Africa account now for more than 1 in 10 international students. A British Council forecast predicts that 5 two of the top 10 fastest growing 18-to22 year old populations through 2025 will be in Africa and the continent’s youth population will surpass that of Asia by 2080.

70 percent of the continent’s population have cell phones, an important statistic for online learning.

Recruiting in Africa or recruiting students from Africa is not easy. I managed an enrollment office in Dakar, Senegal for 10 years and although we enrolled students from more than 40 African countries, it was difficult. Most of the standard rules for international recruiting had to be abandoned for recruiting in an “African way.” However, I believe if a school is willing to make a long-term investment in Africa, the results will be worth both the time and resources.


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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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