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

November 21, 2011

International Undergraduate Student Recruitment: Reversal of Trends for 2015?

Enrollment of Indian students in undergraduate programs in the US for Fall'2010 has declined by ~8% as compared to previous year (IIE Open Doors, 2011). In contrast, China enrollment at undergraduate level has increased by 43%. This translates into increase of 17,055 Chinese students as compared to decrease of 1,188 Indian undergraduate students. Are these trends for Chinese and Indian undergraduate students sustainable? What are the future directions?
Undergraduate Student Enrollment in the US (IIE Open Doors)
                    India   |  China
09/10         15,192  39,921
10/11         14,004   56,976
% change      -8%      43%
I project that beginning 2015, growth directions of undergraduate market for China and India would start showing an opposite pattern (I was quoted on this in the Chronicle of Higher Education). This is the time when India would emerge as a major market for undergraduate student recruitment while China would start showing a decline.

Decline of Chinese undergraduate market: Two primary reasons for decline of Chinese market are changing demographics with decline in population in age bracket 15-19 and over-representation on US campuses. A recent story in the Chronicle highlighted "The China Conundrum" and notes that "The students, mostly from China's rapidly expanding middle class, can afford to pay full tuition, a godsend for colleges that have faced sharp budget cuts in recent years. But what seems at first glance a boon for colleges and students alike is, on closer inspection, a tricky fit for both."
Population in age bracket (15-19) for India and China in million         
                   2010  2015 change % change
India             111 116             5            5%
China            104 86            -18         -17%
          Source: US Census International Programs 
Ascend of Indian undergraduate market: Two primary reasons for increasing growth of Indian undergraduate market are increasing number of rich-kids will start graduating from school and the slow pace of reforms in Indian higher education would not be able to keep pace with demand for quality and ability to pay for good education. I define Gen-Q as children born in late 90’s to the parents working in new-age industries like IT and telecommunications. Gen-Q will start going to college from 2015 onwards and will expect quality and has an ability to afford international undergraduate education.

Given that undergraduate recruitment requires significant amount of seeding and relationship building, institutions should start preparing for this upcoming major shift by cultivating the market in advance.

-Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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November 16, 2011

The Missing Quality and Relevance Mindset

In November, I presented at two conferences on higher education in India--FICCI Higher Education Summit and CII.

At FICCI, I co-presented in plenary session on Internationalization with following speakers:
  • Mr Anand Sudarshan, MD & CEO, Manipal Education  
  • Dr Kavita Sharma, Director, India International Centre 
  • Prof Dame Joan Stringer, Principal & Vice Chancellor, Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland 
  • Mr Nirmal Pal, Regional Director for India, Pennsylvania State University
  • Dr Sheila Embleton, President, Canada India Education Council (CIEC), Canada
My core argument was that India is lacking a quality mindset and internationalization is emerging as a competitive compulsion to inculcate quality. By any indicators of excellence, India is falling behind. It is ironical and embarrassing that with the largest number of B-Schools in the world, India does not have a single B-school which is AACSB accredited (B-school Bubble). Likewise, only 4,300 colleges out of ~33,000 colleges in India have pursued NAAC accreditation. This clearly shows that "voluntary" in the context of Indian higher education means unnecessary burden and there is serious lack of a mindset to achieve to highest standards of quality.

Altbach in his recent article wrote "...academic system as large and complex as India's has almost no “thinking capacity” on higher education." Internationalization will not solve all the complex and enormous problems and has a tendency for remaining concentrated in few institutions and hence the challenge for policy-makers is about enabling internationalization for gaining systemic excellence--bringing both competition and collaborations for improving practices and developing a profession. I am pleased learn that 12th five-year plan will emphasize on not only quality but also recognize importance of internationalization policy for India. (related article on internationalization policy for India).

At CII, I presented in the opening session on the theme of University-Industry partnership. The co-presenters were:
  • Dr SS Mantha, Chairman, AICTE
  • Dr PV Ramana, Chairman, ITM Group
  • Mr P Rajendran, Co-founder and COO, NIIT
  • Dr PV Indiresan, Former director, IIT Madras
The presenters were asked to take a stance on the topic "Whose Stakes are Higher in Academia-Industry Collaborations?" I argued that industry has more to lose by not participating the talent development process. Industry is the end-consumer of talent and has not taken up its fair share of responsibility to shape the future of higher education. I called for a new "industrial revolution" in higher education where industry takes the ownership, co-creates and solves problems rather than blaming universities and government for everything that has gone wrong in higher education. As I mentioned, in my earlier blog posts and presentation in FICCI, Indian higher education system has a long way to go in terms of building a quality mindset, however, industry has a major role to play as a part of triple helix of university, industry and government interactions.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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