International higher education is a big business – a $400 billion dollar “industry.” The number of international students increased from 2.96 million to 3.43 million in 2010 according to UNESCO statistics. Since 2000, the number of overseas students has increased by more than 75%.
The number of students studying outside of their home countries is estimated to be 8 million by 2025. This is a multi-billion dollar business wrapped around every corner of the globe.
By 2020, China will have 20 million potential university students.
By 2015, India will have 9 million potential university students.
The net contribution to the U.S. economy by international students is estimated to be over $14 billion.
Education is the fourth largest source of net exports in the U.S. after:
- Royalties and license fees
- Business, professional, and technical services
- Financial services.
The big- three publishing giants – McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Pearson are expanding substantially into the international curriculum market. There is a great demand abroad for American curriculum information.
For-profit institutions in the developed world will expand their educational services, especially as distance and e-learning providers. Laureat Education Inc. (formerly Sylvan Learning Systems) has spent $1 billion to acquire a network of foreign campuses. Kaplan, Apollo and Phoenix are all players in the international student market.
Technology will encourage the rise of global universities. Technology, as well as today’s global student, will determine the educational delivery methods of the future.
Most countries consider student mobility as critical for sharing knowledge, building intellectual capital and remaining competitive in a globalizing world. Many countries are engaged in what might best be described as a global competition for international students.
No one country will dominate the international student market and there is no such thing as a “typical” international student. Students will migrate to international destinations based on a variety of factors including price, visa eligibility, job opportunities and the perceived return on the educational investment.