Trends, insights and research to inform growth and innovation strategies in international higher education.

November 15, 2010

Indian students enrollments in the US decrease by 3,000, while Chinese increase by 22,000

After eight consecutive years, India loses its spot as the leading country of origin for international students in the US to China, and that too by a big margin of 22,731 students.

Growth directions of Chinese and Indian students enrollment in the US are showing a sharp contrast. There were 3,137 less Indian students enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs in contrast to 22,511 more Chinese students in 2009/10 as compared to 2008/09 (IIE Open Doors 2010). These numbers about contrasting growth directions exclude students on OPT (Optional Practical Training) and "Other" non-degree categories and hence indicate real change in student enrollment in the degree-programs at undergraduate and graduate programs for 2009/10 academic year. (Note: CGS reports fall'2010 admissions trends for graduate programs only, while IIE Open Doors reports previous year's enrollment at all levels).

Over the last five years from 2004/05 to 2009/10, the pace of growth of Chinese students enrollment was nearly three times (CAGR of 15.3%) as compared to Indian students (CAGR of 5.5%). Total number of Chinese students doubled from 62,523 in 2004/05 to 127,628 in 2009/10, resulting in an increase of 65,105 students in five years. During the same period, number of Indian student enrollment grew at a smaller rate and added 24,431 more students in 2009/10 as compared to 2004/05 and much of this growth in the recent years have come because of OPT.

OPT is masking the real decline in Indian students:
IIE Open Doors reports 1.6% growth in enrollment in Indian students which translates into 1,637 additional students as compared to last year. Digging deeper and analyzing the break-up by the academic level, it becomes clear that Indian students have only grown in the OPT category. The number of Indian students on OPT increased by 4,746 while the number of students enrolled in degree programs decreased by 3,137 students, giving a misleading impression of growth in total enrollment.

This significant increase of Indian students in OPT is a direct effect of a very effective policy initiative by the US which allows for extension of OPT from regular 12 months to 29 months for STEM fields. This rule came into effect from April, 2008 and its adoption became more valuable with the recessionary cycle. Given that 57% of all Indian students are enrolled in engineering and computer science programs (see related posting), which qualify for 29-months OPT rule, many Indian students are opting for OPT. Under this arrangement, technically, a students is still "enrolled" in an academic program with an F-1 visa and hence included in the IIE Open Doors numbers.

Where are Indians going?
The UK have been the biggest net gainer of Indian students. Enrollment of Indian students in the UK increased by 8,160 in the period 2007-08 to 2008-09 (Universities UK). More recently, the visa statistics for 2010 admissions indicate significant increase in interest for the UK. This is a result of three interrelated factors:

1) The Australia effect:
The concerns of safety resulted in nearly 5,000 less students enrolling in the Australian higher education (excluding VET etc.) in September 2010 as compared to last year. In fact, total enrollments and commencements (new enrollments) declined by nearly 20% and 48% respectively. Lot of this traffic got redirected to the UK and Canada and less to the US. 

2) US didn't gained from the loss of Australia:
US gained little from the redirecting of the traffic from Australia. This is primarily because even if Indian students are interested in studying in the US, their acceptance rate from the universities is decreasing. This in turn is a result of the very narrow set of institutions in engineering and business which Indian students apply to. Indian students also tend to rely heavily on assistanships and these are much harder to get because of the budgetary crisis of US public universities. See the detailed analysis here.

3) Aggressive recruitment strategies by the UK universities:
These aggressive strategies included use of agents and representative offices in India. For example, the University of Bedfordshire which enrolls about 1,700 Indian students, uses an extensive network of agents and representative office to counsel and recruit students. Likewise, the University of Warwick has representative offices and  University of Salford has multiple agent engagements.

The trend for fall'2011 admissions will be quite similar where UK along with Canada will continue to attract traffic from US and Australia. For the fall'2012 admissions cycle, US economy would have stabilized and Australia would have overcome it's "unfriendly" image for Indians, over-representation of Indians in business and engineering would prompt UK to slow down, while rest of the Europe with Bologna master's programs will gain traction, and Canada will attract talent leveraging immigration and funding policies.

Overall, Indians will continue to seek opportunities to study abroad and will be more open to explore alternative destinations. Although, US will remain the leading destination in the short-term, its preeminence is doubtful in the long term.

I welcome any thoughts/comments/experiences you would like to share.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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November 11, 2010

Guru Mantra: William Brustein, Ohio State University

Dr. William I. Brustein
Vice Provost for Global Strategies and International Affairs

Dr. William I. Brustein is Vice Provost for Global Strategies and International Affairs and Professor of Sociology, Political Science, and History at the Ohio State University. He has served previously as the senior international officer at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Brustein has published widely in the areas of political extremism and ethnic/religious/racial prejudice. His most recent books are The Logic of Evil: the Social Origins of the Nazi Party, 1925 to 1933 (Yale University Press, 1996) and Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe Before the Holocaust (Cambridge University Press, 2003). He is past-president of the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA) and current Chair of NAFSA’s International Education Leadership Knowledge Community. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Association for Studies in International Education, the editorial advisory boards of the Journal of Studies in International Education, the International Education Report, and the executive committee of the Commission on International Programs of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU). In 2003 he was appointed to the NASULGC’s Task Force on International Education and helped draft the published report entitled A Call to Leadership: The Presidential Role in Internationalizing the University.

Rahul- You have proposed the concept of Gateways as a part of the strategy to create a global university. Please share how Gateway approach is more efficient and relevant as compared to other options you considered?
Dr. Brustein- The gateway approach is designed to strengthen several priorities of the university including faculty teaching and research collaborations, international institutional partnerships, international educational experiences for our students, recruitment of international students and scholars, international alumni networking, cultivation of donor prospects, and the global competitiveness of Ohio companies. We examined several models of international engagement (e.g., establishing offshore campuses, setting up an office at an overseas university, etc.) to further our list of priorities and came to the conclusion that the gateway strategy was the most cost effective, comprehensive, and flexible option for our university. Our designation of gateway sites emerged from a systematic examination of current international activities and engagement as well as future interests. As the Land-Grant Flagship University of Ohio we took into consideration countries in which Ohio companies have significant international presence. The current list of gateway locations for Ohio State includes China, India, Brazil, Turkey, Poland, Great Britain and sub-Saharan East Africa. A central component of the gateway strategy is the establishment of an office within the commercial hub of each gateway region. Rather than purchase space we have set out to rent space-- modest in size but capable of allowing us to facilitate and promote our international priorities. Our aim is to select locations within the central business districts easily accessible to our faculty, students, alumni, friends, and corporate partners. An eventual goal for each gateway office is to secure a business license which will allow us to design and offer executive training programs for Ohio and other multinationals for the purpose of enhancing their global competiveness within the gateway region. These programs will be designed and offered by our faculty in areas of demand for which we have highly-regarded expertise (e.g., food safety, foreign corrupt practices act, STEM training, etc.).

Rahul- The first Gateway in China is already operational and you plan to establish a Gateway in India in summer 2011. What are the some of the key learning from the China experience and how do you plan to approach Indian market?
Dr. Brustein- Our China Gateway office located in Shanghai has exceeded our expectations. It opened in February 2010 with the appointment of Ms. Phoebe You as our director. Since February 2010 we have witnessed a tripling of the number of active Ohio State alumni in China, a gigantic leap in the numbers of Chinese students who have applied to Ohio State for undergraduate and graduate admissions, an uptick in the cultivation of donor prospects, a significant increase in faculty collaborations as evidenced by new MOUs with Nanjing University, Shanghai Jiao-Tong University, the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and new interests on the part of our students to study in China and to seek out internships. We are now working closely with several Ohio and western multinational companies to customize executive training programs for their employees. Among key lessons learned from the experience so far with respect to the establishment of the China Gateway, I would list that one needs to stay quite alert to the sudden changes in governmental regulations regarding the operations of foreign offices in China, that relationship building is critical to a university’s success in China, and that designing executive training programs for corporate clients in China requires a considerable investment of time and an understanding that the kinds of offerings which might appeal to corporate clients in Brazil and India may need to be customized to the Chinese market. As we move forward with our plans to open up our gateway office in Mumbai, we feel that many of the lessons gained from our effort in China will enable us to move more quickly with regard to the design and launch of executive training programs. Rather than pursue a liaison office initially as we did in China, our current thinking is that we will apply right away for a PLC license for the requirements for such a license differ significantly between China and India. Among the types of executive training programs we are envisioning for India we are working with our faculty on offerings in the area of sustainable development, STEM education, food and water quality, supply chain logistics and management and work force development.

Rahul- You have extensive leadership experience in building international partnerships. What are the two critical success factors in building sustainable international partnerships?
Dr. Brustein- I fear that many international partnerships have been undertaken without adequate strategic thinking about the expected benefits and risks and how these global partnerships contribute to the teaching, discovery, and engagement missions of the university. There is no question that global institutional partnerships constitute a major building block of the global university for they can buttress and enrich the three principal missions of a university. However, frequently valuable resources are expended on establishing a partnership with a foreign institution without the partners sitting down in advance and asking what does each expect to gain from the partnerships and how much does each partner expect to contribute. For the partnership to have a realistic chance of succeeding it requires that each side sees it as adding value to its core priorities. What objectives should a university pursue in establishing global partnerships? It makes little sense for our universities to attempt to set up institutional partnerships in as many countries as possible. It is much better to have a few substantial partnerships than to have many superficial ones. When deciding upon potential partners think of how that partner’s research and teaching strengths could complement those of your institution. Once you have constituted a viable institutional partnership think of ways your institution can build upon the initial relationship both vertically and horizontally. Again, the primary motivation for expansion has to be based on mutual self interests. A relationship initiated from complementary faculty research interests in chemical engineering can expand to include team-taught courses in chemical engineering and the development of a professional dual degree master’s as well as become a good starting point to explore the possibilities of teaching and research collaborations in other fields, exchange of faculty and students, recruitment of international students, development of an alumni chapter, fundraising initiatives, a portal for study abroad programs for that world region, and dual or joint degrees. The essential point is to see how other institutional objectives might be fulfilled by expanding upon the inaugural relationship.
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November 09, 2010

Indian students' enrollment decline in the US universities

Number of offers and first-time enrollment of Indian students at the US graduate programs continued to decrease for the third year in a row by 4% and 3% respectively, according a report by CGS. This is in contrast to the continued interest of Indian students to apply for US graduate programs, as indicated by the number of applications. (See related analysis on Indian students here and here).

The number of applications from India for 100 largest institutions has increased by 3% while number of offers from the these universities has decreased by 3% (CGS). This indicates that while more Indian students are interested in studying in the US universities, there is lesser interest by the universities to admit them.

The most important factor for the decrease in offers by the US universities is that Indian students tend to apply to a very narrow set of institutions which are already having a significant concentration of Indian students. For example, 57% of all Indian students are enrolled at master's level program in engineering, computer science and business (NSF). These programs already get large number of applications from Indian students and because of limited differentiation offered by the applicants, universities have to decline Indian students at a higher rate.

In addition, Indian students tend to apply to large, doctoral-level institutions which already have high number of Indian students. This is clear from the increase in the number of applications for 100 largest institutions by 3% as compared to a decrease for all other institutions by 8%. Indians are also heavily concentrated by geography.  More than half of all Indians are enrolled in seven US states and one out of four Indian student is in five metropolitan cities of New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Washington, DC (IIE Open Doors) .

Indian students enrolling at the graduate level, also tend to rely heavily on assistanships and these are much harder to get because of the budgetary crisis universities are into.

The overall trend is that Indian students continue to consider US as the most preferred option but their preference may not be reflected in the total enrollment. This is because students are considering only a narrow pool of institutions and programs where they are unable to differentiate and hence are being accepted at a slower rate.
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November 05, 2010

Enrollment Patterns of Indian and Chinese International Students

While the number of students going abroad from China and India are increasing, their enrollment patterns and preferences vary considerably by pace of growth, destination, field of study and level of study. Here are four key comparisions:

  • Growth of Chinese is outpacing Indians
Interest for foreign education is growing at a much faster rate among Chinese as compared to Indians. For example, the number of applications for fall 2010 admissions to US has increased by 20% from China as compared to 1% from India (CGS). Likewise, undergraduate enrollments in 2008-09 for Chinese students grew by nearly 10,000 students as compared to about 2,000 Indian students (IIE Open Doors).

  • Chinese preferring US; Indians the UK
While US is the leading destination for Chinese and Indians, there seems to be an increasing interest from Chinese for the US and from Indians for the UK. Enrollment of Chinese students in the UK increased by 1,680 as compared to 8,160 Indians in the period 2007-08 to 2008-09 (Universities UK). Likewise, enrollment of Chinese students in the US increased by 17,383 as compared to 8,697 Indians in the period 2007-08 to 2008-09 (IIE Open Doors).

  • Chinese prefer business programs and Indians engineering
Indian students are heavily concentrated in Engineering or Computer Science and there are twice as many Indians as Chinese in these fields of study. Nearly 57% of all Indian students are enrolled in Engineering and Computer Science as compared to 25% for Chinese (NSF). In contrast, Business is the leading field of study for Chinese students. Twice as many Chinese students are enrolled in Business programs as Indian students (NSF).

  • Chinese enroll at across the levels and Indians at master’s level
Indian students are also heavily enrolled at the master’s level. Nearly 69% of all Indian students are enrolled at master’s level, 14% at undergraduate and 18% at doctoral level (NSF). In contrast, least proportion of Chinese students is at master’s level with 29% followed by 33% at doctoral and 38% at undergraduate level (NSF).

There are several reasons for the differences in the enrollment patterns of Chinese and Indian students. However, three key reasons are size of education systems, ability to afford education and future career expectations/options. Supply of students seeking foreign education is higher for China as compared to India. China has about 27 million students enrolled in tertiary education as compared to 15 million for India (Global Education Digest).

Chinese have nearly double purchasing power than Indians (World Bank) and Chinese students also get more concentrated support as a single child in their family. This helps them pursue busines programs which are expensive and offer little financial aid as compared to engineering where assistantships are more available. Given the growth of Information Technology services industry, Indians see engineering as an attractive career options with opporunities of long term settlement in the US.

Indians anyways prefer to study abroad for the master’s level education and UK universities are becoming more popular because of better return on investments from the one-year master’s program. On the other hand, Chinese are already in large number in the UK, which is indicating more preference by the UK universities for Indian students.

I will be posting addtional analysis after the IIE Open Doors data is released in next couple of weeks.

- Dr. Rahul Choudaha

Data Resources:
Global Education Digest
IIE Open Doors
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November 02, 2010

Comprehensive internationalization strategy for higher education institutions: Published article in EDU

Published article on the need of comprehensive internationlization strategy for higher education institutions in the EDU magazine. Given below is the summary. Click here to read the full article.

Internationalization is a competitive compulsion for higher education institutions that are in the race for quality and excellence. There are several Indian institutions which have approached internationalization in a piecemeal fashion, however, there are no exemplars which have pursued a comprehensive strategy.

This is critical as internationalization is an expensive process with controllable and uncontrollable risks. Further, gaining the confidence of reputed foreign universities for collaborations or recruiting foreign students is a time and resource intensive process.

Comprehensive internationalization is an opportunity to create long-term differentiation and value-addition for the university or college. Here are five steps to approach it:

- Develop an internationalization plan
- Align processes and resources
- Forge sustainable and innovative collaborations
- Take a talent perspective
- Develop thought leadership

Relevant resources:
- Book- Building a Strategic Framework for Comprehensive Internationalization
- Strategy for Comprehensive Internationalization: Portland State University
- Virginia Tech International Strategic Plan

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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