Trends, insights and strategies on internationalization of higher education by Dr. Rahul Choudaha

July 27, 2015

Economic climate and its impact on international mobility of Chinese students

My recent article "The end of the China growth story?" published in the University World News analyzes the trend with the global mobility of Chinese student in the context of economic uncertainties. Given below is the excerpt.

Prior to the recession, a majority of Chinese students in the US were concentrated in graduate-level programmes. In 2006-2007, only 15% of a total of 67,723 students from China were enrolled in undergraduate programmes. By 2013-2014, undergraduates formed 40% of the 274,439 Chinese students, according to the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors data.

Looking at Chinese students from the framework of international student segmentation, the increase in students at the undergraduate level was primarily driven by the growth of ‘Explorers’, those with high financial resources and low academic preparedness. This expanding segment is funded by financially well-off families who want to invest in the experiences and future of a single child. This segment is relatively immune from financial uncertainty and continues to have a strong demand for studying abroad.

In contrast, ‘Strivers’, those with low financial resources and high academic preparedness, are more likely to be graduate-level students. This traditional segment is typically motivated by career advancement and job opportunities.

Given the size and scale of the wealthy class in China, the demand for undergraduate and high school education abroad will continue to be strong. However, self-funded graduate education at both the masters and doctoral levels will face challenges for the next couple of years.

Given that more and more Chinese are studying abroad at a younger age and continuing to study longer as “professional students” – starting at high school and continuing to masters degree and beyond – institutions cannot ignore recruiting in their own backyard. The next opportunity for recruiting Chinese students is not necessarily from China, but instead from a local institution or from a third country.

In sum, the overall demand for foreign education among Chinese students will continue to be robust. However, there will be a shift in student segments and their decision-making processes. Proactive institutions will adapt to this changing environment by deepening their understanding of different segments and preparing for the future.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

How China Saved International Student Enrollment in the US?
How many Indian and Chinese students go abroad every year?
Interest in Foreign MBA: Chinese Women on Top
Read More »

July 20, 2015

Shai Reshef on his mission to scale a sustainable model of non-profit, tuition-free, accredited, online academic institution

higher education innovative leader interviewShai Reshef is President & Founder of University of the People – the world’s first tuition-free, non-profit, accredited, online University dedicated to opening access to higher education. An educational entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience in the international education market, President Reshef has been widely recognized for his work with UoPeople, including being named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business; joined UN-GAID as a High-level Adviser; granted membership in the Clinton Global Initiative; selected by The Huffington Post as the Ultimate Game Changer in Education; nominated as one of Wired Magazine’s 50 People Changing the World; and selected as a Top Global Thinker by Foreign Policy Magazine. His TED Talk: “An Ultra-Low-Cost College Degree” has been viewed by almost 2 million people in the last year.

Rahul - At University of People, you have created a large volunteer operation with over 3,000 volunteering professors, academic leaders and built a range of partnerships. What are your two most important lessons in successfully working with volunteers and partners?

Shai - I knew that there were good people out there – I just didn’t know how many. This was my biggest lesson!
  • People are willing to give of themselves and give to the world.
  • If you have a great idea, you will find great people who are willing to make it happen.
  • When you give you always get back more than you have given – (true for me and for them)
  • When you start a business you know some times are harder than you expected. Just reach out for assistance.
  • Be happy with whatever you can get. Remember that volunteers are not your employees. Set up fair expectations and be grateful for the support.
Rahul - In last six years, University of the People has emerged as the "world’s first non-profit, tuition-free, accredited, online academic institution". Based on your unique leadership perspectives in institution building, what are couple of things you would have done differently to further enhance the impact of the University?

Shai -
  • To have more budget allocated toward spreading the word.
  • UNESCO stated that in 2025, 100 million students will be deprived from higher education simply because there will not be enough seats to accommodate them, to meet the demand. Our main challenge is how to make the 100 million aware of us.
  • Due to our accelerated growth, for the first time in our history we are running out of scholarships. The mission of the University is that nobody will be turned away and no one will be left behind due to financial constraints. We have to continually dedicate more and more effort toward raising more scholarships in order to meet the growing demand.
Rahul - What are couple of strategic goals/initiatives you are looking forward to achieving in next three years?

Shai -
  • Sustainability: We will reach sustainability once we have 4,000 students; $2.5 million; and we expect this to happen in 2016. From that point on, we expect to continue our accelerated growth, to service the millions that need us and to build a model for others. In addition, we are on track to doubling the student number with every year.
  • We are currently in the process of developing 2 new programs – an MBA and a Bachelor of Health Science – to address the capacity-shortage problems that exist at traditional universities as well as addressing the requests of our students.  
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July 06, 2015

Partnering to build an ecosystem of highered innovation

Here is the excerpt from my recent blog "Building an Ecosystem of Higher Education Innovation" published in Huffington Post.

The confluence of cost and funding pressures, technology-enabled learning innovations and new paradigms of quality and teaching will continue to force higher education institutions to redefine their value.

higher education ecosystem of collaboration edtech
However, higher education institutions are unwilling to embrace new definitions of value and quality "as valid, even when they can see that customers increasingly prefer the new value offerings," notes a report from TIAA-CREF Institute.

The Presidential Innovation series hosted by the American Council on Education sums up with a tough question--"Are our current business models stale and too tradition-bound to serve us effectively in this new era for higher education?"

Innovation is taking place at a much faster rate at the fringes of the higher education system than at its core. It is getting accelerated by the energy of entrepreneurs, employers, investors and most importantly, new types of learners who are open to experiment.

The opportunity for higher education institutions and systems is to embrace these "outsiders" as an important part of the innovation ecosystem. Higher education institutions will face increasing pressure to counter the public perception that "too many degrees are a waste of money."

This shift will require the expansion of the ecosystem of higher education innovation through partnerships with and the inclusion of new stakeholders.

Share an example of an institution or initiative at the forefront of innovation--tweet @DrEducationBlog or email

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

Related resources:
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June 13, 2015

Growth in 'glocal' students in transnational education programs for England

Transnational education is an increasingly important pathway for international students coming to the UK. They typically transfer from an overseas partner institution and then continue to stay to earn postgraduate program. This is the core finding of a recent research entitled "Transnational pathways to higher education in England" from HEFCE.

It notes that a third of the international (non EU) entrants to first degree programs (17,140 entrants) in England were transnational students, who transferred directly from overseas partner institutions. While this is a significant proportion of overall number of students enrolling in first degree programs, looking deeper into source countries, we notice that it driven by couple of countries. China and Malaysia form nearly 70% of transnational students transferring from overseas partners to England. Another interesting point is that there is very little traction for TNE programs among Indian students.

The report notes that transnational is providing a pathway for value-seeking students as they "give students greater flexibility over where to study towards their degree – in England, or at the home-based institution or branch campus. In addition to the lower cost associated with shorter periods of study abroad, transnational pathways are also time efficient" (p.15). In addition to value-seekers, I argue that there are students who enroll in TNE programs due to ease in accessing global education.

I hypothesize that there are two dimensions of TNE students:
1) those who are challenged by financial resources and hence seek lower cost (or value)
2) those who are challenged by academic preparedness and hence seek lower admissions standards

I have defined these TNE students as 'glocal' students based on the framework of international student segments. 

Janet Ilieva, former Head of Economic and Qualitative Analysis of HEFCE notes in her blog that "The increase in transnational pathways for international student recruitment may also change the way English universities and colleges engage with overseas institutions." She adds that "The nature of these pathways underlines the need to engage strategically by forging alliances with likeminded institutions overseas, underpinned by an in-depth understanding of the other countries’ education system."

Clearly, TNE is not only becoming bigger in scale but also more complex in the nature of international partnerships and quality assurance mechanisms. In my previous articles, I have mentioned that the issue of assuring quality in TNE and deepening the understanding of 'glocal' students will be integral to the long-term sustainable growth of innovative transnational education models.

Related links:
Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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May 17, 2015

NAFSA 2015: Hot Trends for SIOs and The Innovation Imperative

Boston will be hosting 10,000 international education professionals from May 24-29 for NAFSA Annual Conference. With 200 + concurrent sessions and 500+ posters on a wide range of topics, the conference has something for everyone. Programming and networking opportunities are divided into five Knowledge Communities-- Education Abroad, International Education Leadership, International Enrollment Management, International Student and Scholar Services, and Teaching, Learning and Scholarship.

hot trends and symposium on innovation and leadership in international education
 This year, I've the honor of serving as the Chair of the International Education Leadership Knowledge Community (IEL KC), which focuses serving the needs of aspiring, new, or experienced senior international officers (SIOs) and internationalization leaders.  Interested in learning more about opportunities of engagement and developments at IELKC? Join us for IEL KC Update on May 27 at 8:45 AM in BCEC, 252AB.

NAFSA's IEL KC team has worked together to provide several opportunities of engagement for SIOs. Here is complete listing of Content of Special Interest to International Educators in Senior Positions. In specific, Symposium on Leadership will bring together experts to discuss on the theme of The Innovation Imperative: Leading Change in a Competitive Environment.

Are your curious to learn about the emerging priorities and strategic responses from SIOs' perspective? Join us for an interactive session entitled Hot Trends for Senior International Officers (SIOs) on May 27th at 10:15 AM in BCEC, 157BC. We will be sharing the findings of survey conducted by IEL KC and discussing its implications with the audience in achieving their internationalization goals.

In a separate session, I will be on a panel that will focus on Using Research to Advance Your International Education Goals (Thursday, May 28 at 9:30 AM).

I look forward to seeing you in Boston! Tweet with #nafsaSIO #NAFSA15

Related links:

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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May 15, 2015

Top-30 world universities with largest number of international students

Australian and British universities are highly successful in attracting international students from around the world. Especially, given the relatively small size of the overall Australian higher education system, the large numbers of foreign show high maturity and dependency of Australian institutions on foreign students. [I will be discussing on this at the upcoming webinar entitled Global Student Mobility: Insights and Implications for Your Recruitment Strategy hosted by International Education Association of Australia (IEAA).]

Here is the list I compiled by taking top-20 universities in Australia, the UK and the US in terms of international student enrollment and sorting top-30 of total 60 universities. The results are:
Among top-10: Australia=5,   US=3 and UK=2
Among top-20: Australia=8,   US=8 and UK=4
Among top-30: Australia=10, US=9 and UK=11

top world universities with largest number of international students

This analysis excludes other leading destinations like Germany and Canada, due to unavailability of parallel data that indicates international student enrollment all institutions in the country. For example, McGill University enrolled 8,887 international students in 2013, but it is not included in the analysis. For feedback, questions, clarifications write to .

For the UK and Australia, the numbers exclude offshore or transnational education enrollments.
The data for Australia has been updated and reflected in the chart. Previous data incorrectly included offshore data for some universities.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha (Author)
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May 09, 2015

4 reasons why LinkedIn may be a gamechanger in global university rankings

Much has been debated and researched about the uses and abuses of university rankings. Now, the arena of global university rankings has a new contender, LinkedIn, which has the potential to change the future of the rankings game. Here are the four reasons in support of LinkedIn’s potential.

global university rankings with LinkedIn

1. Sharper focus on career outcomes
LinkedIn is focused on career outcomes. One of the biggest limitations of the rankings is that they focus on students as consumers of information, while their methodologies focus on proxies like research citations. An alternative approach is to use metrics that directly impact students. In a cost-conscious environment where the value of higher education is under increasing scrutiny, return on investment and career outcome is becoming more important for students.

2. Deeper view at program level
The multi-disciplinary and comprehensive nature of universities is better captured by program rankings than by university rankings. Program-level rankings are not only more informative for students, but also attempt to overcome the halo effect of university brands. LinkedIn provides an opportunity to break the data down by programs and customize it to additional issues like location. For example, the number one program for undergraduate accounting in the US, according to LinkedIn, is Villanova University, not a usual suspect.

3. Wider global reach
The growing global user-base of LinkedIn provides it with a solid platform to deliver rankings that are truly global in its reach. Sixty-eight per cent of the 347 million LinkedIn users are based outside of the United States. Currently, LinkedIn rankings are limited to US, UK and Canadian institutions and cover only select fields of studies. However, the growing number of international users supported by entry into new markets like China is going to help LinkedIn gain wider reach and credibility for global rankings.

4. Richer insights over time
Ranking providers conduct annual exercises of collecting data and releasing ‘new’ versions. However, there is hardly any year on year difference in institutions nor any noticeable difference from students’ perspectives. The methodologies and underlying data do not allow for exploring long-term results. In contrast, LinkedIn data is based on students’ career trajectory and provides the potential to analyse and rank according to the long-term impact of education investment. It even customises rankings from different angles, including location of work.

A better ranking?
Like any other ranking system, LinkedIn’s methodology is imperfect and has several limitations. For example, the career outcomes used in the rankings are confounded by several other variables beyond the institutions of graduation. Philosophically, they may also lead to a parochial view of educational experiences by reducing them to career outcomes alone.
Despite these limitations, though, LinkedIn rankings will evolve over time and have the potential to be a game changer by helping students make informed choices, by creating more competition for existing rankings and even by potentially incentivizing universities to move from research citations to career outcomes.

Originally published as LinkedIn: the future of global university rankings? in University World News by Dr. Rahul Choudaha.

What are your thoughts and comments?
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