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

December 24, 2011

Top Stories of 2011 in International Higher Education

The year 2011 was a tumultuous year for the world of international higher education which is increasingly getting influenced by the phenomenon of globalization. As Jane Knight notes "...internationalization is changing the world of education and globalization is changing the world of internationalization." This year also reaffirmed deep interconnection of higher education with sociopolitical and economic environment. Following three stories further emphasize these trends:

- Increasing reliance on China: 
Chinese students constitute 15% of  3.3 million globally mobile students (~510,000 students) according to UNESCO. The second largest source of globally mobile students is India which constitutes nearly 6 per cent (~195,000 students). Some campuses like University of Iowa are already heavily reliant on Chinese students which constituted half of all international students in fall 2011 (1648/3271). Already, there are concerns about the campus diversity, language issues and role of agents in misrepresentation and recruitment of Chinese students.

- Restructuring of UK higher education:
The UK announced major policy reforms which are influencing the stakeholders at a number of levels. The system is moving towards increasing role of private higher education by allowing students to borrow more money to study at private institutions. The policy directions also aim at re-balancing the research and learning  emphasis at universities which is already receiving a lot of resistance.

- New wave of branch campuses:
Branch campuses described as "...a modern version of the quest for 'gold, God and glory'" were in news again in 2011 with some optimistic and others with pessimistic tone. This time destination for branch campuses are beyond Gulf and included some of the major brand names venturing abroad. This included plans of Duke for China, Yale for Singapore, Carnegie Mellon for  Rwanda and York University's Schulich for India. Winter 2012 issue of IHE has more articles on this theme.


Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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December 18, 2011

Emerging Markets for International Student Recruitment: Thinking Beyond China and India

With more than 260,000 students from China and India enrolled in the US, many American institutions are over-reliant on these two markets for meeting their international student recruitment goals. With the budget cuts, self-financed students are becoming increasingly important and Chinese undergraduate students are a lucrative and fast-growing segment. However, there are already concerns about concentration of Chinese students in some campuses and India had been showing stagnancy in last few years. This indicates that institutions need to look beyond China and India and cultivate other source countries. 
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December 08, 2011

International Student Enrollment from BRICs: Why Brazil and Russia are showing counter-trend to India and China?

A decade back, Goldman Sachs report coined the termed BRICs--Brazil, Russia, China and India. It predicted that "...over the next 10 years, the weight of the BRICs and especially China in world GDP will grow." The predictions seem right not only in terms of GDP but also something completely unrelated i.e. international student enrollment. China and India are dominant in terms of international student enrollment and contributed nearly 84% ( 146,850/175,410) of all international enrollment growth in the US between 2000/01 and 2010/11. 

However, it is surprising to note the counter-trend with Brazil and Russia. The number of international students from Brazil have remained stagnant (-1%) and it declined steeply for Russia (-33%). What explains this counter-trend for Brazil and Russia as compared to India and China?

International student mobility is a complex interplay of many push and pull variables. One such very important variable is advancement opportunities at home which makes going abroad less attractive. This is where Russia and Brazil seem to score well as compared to China and India. Based on Gross National Incomes (PPP$), Russia and Brazil have a much higher standard of living as compared to China and India and hence they are less "pushed" to consider studying abroad. China and India are lagging behind in terms of  overall quality of life and hence they will continue to see more students going abroad in search of better prospects.    

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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December 03, 2011

The Unexpected Contributors to Growth in International Student Enrollment in the US

Number of international students enrolled in US higher education increased by nearly 175,000 in a decade, according to the IIE Open Doors 2011. This is a robust growth which weathered the impact of 9/11 and then recession of 2008. However, looking closely one notices that this growth is contributed by two unexpected segments--Optional Practical Training (OPT) and "Non-degree" students. In fact, 46% (80,323/175,410) of all growth in this decade was contributed by OPT and Non-degree students.

The proportion of OPT students in total enrollment figures increased from 3.8% to 10.5% in a decade. One of the reasons for this increase is attributed to extension of OPT duration from 12 months to 27 months for STEM students. Given that at least 35% of all international students are enrolled in STEM fields which qualify for extended OPT, many students are opting for this opportunity. This becomes even more pronounced in the case of Indians. In fact, two out of three Indian students are enrolled in STEM fields. This also explains enrollment pattern for Indian students which increased by 25.5% at OPT level, however, it declined for all other levels.

Similar to OPT phenomenon, "Non-degree" students which included Intensive Language Programs increased from 6.2% to 8.2% of total international student enrollment in US higher education. Here the enrollment at Intensive Language programs increased by 24% in Fall 2010/11 as compared to last year. This growth was largely driven by Saudi students. Nearly 29% of all Saudi students are enrolled in Intensive English Language programs  . The "Non-degree" enrollment for Saudi students more than doubled from 3,247 to 6,772.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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