Research on Mobility of Foreign Students and its Implications for Policy

Jul 20, 2014

Here are two interesting research articles, I came across on international student mobility.

1. How to Attract Foreign Students by Arnaud Chevalier

In this paper, author provides an overview on how international student mobility can be beneficial for all participants including migrating students and those who remain at home, as well as home and host countries.

It shares a simple model of student migration based on the economic models where "individuals invest in education to increase future income. They choose to invest if the income increase over their lifetime is greater than the cost (including effort) incurred for their education. The decision to study abroad is determined in this model by the costs of education in both countries, the differences in the returns to skills in both countries, and the costs of (return) migration—including non-financial costs such as family circumstances."

The author asserts that "[o]pen-visa policies that allow foreign graduates to remain in the country after completing their studies and a thriving labor market are two factors that attract more and better student migrants."

2. The Determinants of International Mobility of Students by Michel Beine, Romain Noël and Lionel Ragot

In this paper, authors have analyzed the determinants of the choice of destination of international students. They use a multi-origin multi-destination framework to identify the main factors at stake. "Relying on a small theoretical model of human capital investment, [they] focus on two types of factors: those affecting the migration costs such as distance and migrants’ network at destination and those affecting the attractiveness of the destination such as the quality of universities, education costs and host capacity." The authors estimate the importance of those factors using data covering more than 180 origin countries and 13 OECD destination countries which cover more than 75 % of the total international student migration flows. Two major findings are:
- Network effect: The presence of home country nationals at the destination country increases its attractiveness.
- Quality of education: The perception of quality of institutions adds to the attractiveness of the destinations.
The research findings imply that while international student mobility is complex and it is important to understand its interconnection with national policies--both host and destination countries have a role to play in making sure that brain exchange pattern is mutually beneficial. 

Enrollment statistics of international high schools students in the US

Jul 9, 2014

What are the trends with the international students enrolled in the US secondary schools? This is the overarching question addressed by a recent report published by the Institute of International Education “Charting new pathways to higher education: International secondary students in the United States” which offers insights for enrollment and recruitment strategies. It notes that in October 2013 there were nearly 73,000 international students were pursuing a secondary-level education in the US, with nearly two-third enrolled for a full diploma (48,632).

Here are the key highlights:

  • What the leading source countries for international high school students? 
US high schools are even more dependent on China as compared to universities and colleges. 

China is the largest source country of high schools students to the US


  • How do enrollment of high school students differ in terms of control of institution --private vs. public?
Majority of international high school students are enrolled in private institutions.

public universities enroll most of international students


  • How do enrollment of high school students differ by the size of private school?
Two-third of all international high school students on F-1 visa are enrolled in small to mid-size institutions.

enrollment of high school students by size of private institution



Author: Dr. Rahul Choudaha

How to maximize impact of internationalization strategies?

Jul 4, 2014

Why internationalization strategies of universities often deliver sub-optimal results? Why international efforts in many institutions struggle to get adequate resources? Why some institutions go through mission-creep and get distracted about their purpose and approaches of going global?

These are some of the question answered in our recent piece entitled "Higher Education Internationalization – What gets measured, gets funded" published in University World News by me and Eduardo Contreras Jr of Harvard Graduate School of Education.

We argue that despite growing interest in internationalization, institutions have not maximized its potential due to lack of attention to two extremes of the internationalization process.

"First, the definition of internationalization is not adapted to higher education institutions’ institutional mission and context. Second, adequate efforts are not being made in assessing the impact of internationalization on the campus community."

Defining internationalization: Mission over movement 

The definition of internationalization must be localized to fit the specific needs of an individual campus in three critical areas: people, ideas and places. In establishing parameters for success in these areas, a principle of mission over movement can be applied.

"In the same way that ‘mind over matter’ can help the strong among us to avoid the empty calories in an extra slice of cake, mission over movement can help leaders focus on the substance of internationalization at their campuses over the perceived glory of goals that do not fit the mission of their institutions."

Assessing internationalisation: Impact over input

One of the reasons why internationalisation does not get the attention it deserves is the limited demonstrable impact of internationalisation at the campus level.

This is where, impact assessment can feed into strategy formulation as it helps in moving from anecdotal, intuition-driven strategies to more evidence-driven strategies.

Successful strategies for comprehensive internationalization would not only focus on asking for resources (inputs), but would also put corresponding efforts into assessing the impact of internationalization at all levels by investing in systematic data collection, analysis and dissemination.

We know that ‘what gets measured, gets done’, but perhaps the new mantra is ‘what gets measured, gets funded’.


Measuring impact of university internationalization strategies
Source: ULM http://www.ulm.edu/assessment/

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

How universities can improve experiences of international students? What are the best practices?

Jun 30, 2014

foreign student and university perspective on research and strategies
Source: NAFSA research on international student research
One of the key take-away of the research was "that poor retention is a function of the mismatch between expectations of students prior to enrollment and the actual experience of students once they are on campus.” Sheila Schulte of NAFSA note that “The three main implications from the study that can help institutions set transparent expectations with international students are: understanding the diverse needs of the international student body, coordinating internationalization efforts across campus, and investing in programs and services that improve student experiences.”

Here are the related links covering the research:
Infographic on NAFSA International Student Retention Research 
Why They Stay or Leave, Inside Higher Ed 

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

International Branch Campuses of UK Universities in UAE: Highlights from QAA

Jun 14, 2014

Quality Assurance Agency of UK released a very insightful report entitled "Review of UK Transnational Education in United Arab Emirates." It provides an overview of the scale and scope of the overseas branch campus activity of British universities in UAE. It is an important indicator as, according to the report "the UAE is the country hosting the largest number of international branch campuses in the world, currently hosting 37 from 11 different countries, with the UK being the highest sending country."

The report notes that "of all UK higher education institutions, 70 of them (over 40 per cent) were engaged in some form of TNE activity in the UAE in 2012-13. This activity involves just over 15,000 students, representing an increase of 37 per cent during the past two years. This increase has been most noticeable in the number of students studying in the two large branch campuses of Heriot-Watt University and Middlesex University, which account for 78 per cent of the students working towards a UK award in the Dubai free zones." 

These numbers are quite small in terms of the overall scope of the activities. To put in perspective, The University of Manchester and University College London alone enrolled nearly 23,000 non-UK students in 2012-13 on their home campuses. Likewise, University of Southern California and University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign enrolled nearly 19,500 international students between two of them.

I have previously noted that international branch campuses get disproportionate amount of attention as compared to alternative models of transnational education engaged in by higher education institutions. 

Here are three additional charts from the report:

1. While overseas branch campus activity (Type 1) has grown, it still forms only 7,000 students in  branch campuses of UK universities in whole of UAE.

2. Two campuses-Heriot-Watt and MiddleSex-form 3/4th of IBC activity of UK universities in Dubai.


3. Student enrollment in Dubai is stagnating, showing a sign of saturation



Dr. Rahul Choudaha

Access policies to higher education in the BRICS countries: Special journal issue

Jun 7, 2014

What higher education policies in BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are working and not working in achieving access goals? The open access Special Issue of the Journal Widening Participation and Lifelong Learning aims to answer this central question. 

The co-editors-- Erich Dietrich, Teboho Moja and Loni Bordoloi Pazich--note that "This special issue focuses on access policies to higher education in the BRICS countries with scholars from each country contributing an analysis of what is working and what is not, as well as a critical examination of emerging issues in the implementation of access policies aimed at addressing equity issues and increasing participation rates in higher education. This country-by country case-study approach illuminates the contextual challenges of developing equitable policies for access to higher education. In each country, the lines of inequality differ: race, socioeconomic status, caste, ethnic group affiliation, gender, rural versus cosmopolitan status, and inherited privilege. And yet, there is a remarkable unity in the fact that addressing these inequalities has become a top priority for each country."


"The central argument of the authors is that state is an important influencer in bringing large scale change in higher education and by analyzing the transformation of higher education in BRIC countries from the lens of nation-state, we would gain a deeper understanding of the long-term impact on the societies’ social and economic development. In specific, they find that the higher education systems in BRIC countries have been undergoing an increasing differentiation between mass and elite universities. Moreover, there is increasing shift of cost to students through tuition fees.

The book is unique on at least two counts. First, it uses an empirical and comparative approach to analyze the transformation of higher education systems in developing economies. It attempts to bring together seemingly complex data through primary sources and wherever data is unavailable collecting it through fieldwork. This is especially commendable as data availability in not only inconsistent it is unavailable in many cases, making it a challenging project. This enhances the value of the outcomes as one of the most comprehensive compilation of data on many aspects of engineering education in BRIC countries.

Second, the authors look into expansion from the lens of how state acts as an important influencer in achieving goals as compared to universities as a locus of change. This includes a detailed discussion on interaction between state and universities which is managed through two primary instruments. First, the degree of autonomy universities are granted by state and second, financing incentives that provide resources to universities and help them in improving quality. The policies of financing of higher education becomes even more contrasting when one learns about the growth of private higher education in countries like India and Brazil as compared to quest for “world-class” universities in countries like China and Russia. And of course, state is an influential actor in ensuring equitable expansion. The author’s treatment of politically and socially complex topics like access and its relationship with affirmative action, especially in Brazil and India are very insightful."

In addition, the special issue of Comparative and International Education Society’s (CIES) Higher Education Special Interest Group (HESIG) also focused on BRIC countries. I contributed an article on higher education reforms in India.

international student enrollment from brics: why brazil and russia are showing counter-trend to india and china?

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

How many students graduate from India every year?

Jun 4, 2014

How many students are graduate from universities and colleges in India every year? This is one of the often asked question to me. While there is data available on the number of students enrolled in Indian higher education, I have not come across any official data on number of students completing the post-graduate (master's or doctoral) or graduate (bachelor's) degree. 

Number of Students Graduating from Indian Higher Education

Based on the latest enrollment figures available for 2012-13, I have estimated the student enrollment and number of graduates earning degree every year. Based on previous data, I have assumed that one out of six students enrolled in bachelor's degree programs is in four-year engineering and rest are in three-year degrees. In addition, I have estimated the rate of growth or expansion of higher education enrollment at the rate of 15% per annum. 

This results in an estimated 26.5 million students enrolled in Indian higher education in 2014-15 and 9 million graduates. 

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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