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

December 17, 2012

Book on Indian Higher Education: Essays by Altbach, Edited by Agarwal

A Half-Century of Indian Higher Education: Essays by Philip G Altbach is edited by Pawan Agarwal Adviser, Higher Education, Planning Commission of India. This is a compendium of 34 writings of Altbach on Indian higher education.

Altbach is synonymous with high impact, scholarly work in international higher education. However, what many may not know is that his scholarly connections started with his dissertation on student political activism in India. Specifically, his dissertation was entitled "Students, Politics, and Higher Education in a Developing
Society, The Case of Bombay, India."

This book brings together scholarly contributions of Altbach in shaping the future directions of Indian higher education.With more than 600 pages and seven sections, the book is a comprehensive collection of writings and even includes a section on "India and China-Comparative Analysis" which ends with an afterword: by Altbach highlighting "India's Higher Education Challenges." He notes that "Given the realities of contemporary Indian higher education, it is not possible to be optimistic about a breakthrough in quality."

The editor, Pawan Agarwal, is the architect of India's twelfth five year plan (2012-2017) which is aiming for "equity, excellence and expansion through aspiration, achievement and alignment" (Here is the twelfth plan on higher education from pg. 89-123). Pawan is also the author of a definitive book Indian Higher Education: Envisioning the Future (Sage, 2009). I interviewed him on his previous book. Here is the interview with Pawan

In the Epilogue of this book entitled "Higher Education in India-The Twelfth Plan and Beyond", Pawan concludes that "Policy is created in the context of the larger public discourse" and this book certainly enables "a process of integrative thinking and applied creativity to be addressed to the issues of the country's higher education sot hat it can reach its full potential." 

I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to take a deep dive into the evolution and development of Indian higher education.
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December 13, 2012

Foreign Students Becoming Integral to Budgets of Universities

International students and their dependents contributed $21.81 billion in 2011-12 to the U.S. economy, according to a NAFSA report. This contribution increased by 40% from pre-recession time contribution of $15.5 billion in 2007-08, indicating that international student mobility is recession-proof.

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, a private university, enrolled largest number of foreign students in the US and received $289 million in tuition and fees from 9,269 students.

Contribution of foreign students to the US economy is growing due to two primary factors--1) larger number of students coming to the US and more importantly 2) more students enrolling at undergraduate level, where students are self-funded and hence financial aid outflow is limited.

As I mention in my previous blog, growth was led by just 108 "Research Universities" which enrolled nearly two-fifth of all international students in the US. In addition, 2/3rd of these research universities are public institutions.

The growth in foreign student enrollment becomes most obvious in the case of some of the most reputed public research institutions in California as shown in the table. For example, at UC-Berkeley, tuition and fees from foreign student grew by double the rate as compared to number of foreign student enrollment, indicating higher rate of enrollment of self-funded students. Foreign students contributed $154 million and $176 million to UC-Berkeley and UCLA respectively in the form of tuition and fees in 2011-12.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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December 09, 2012

Getting ready for the next wave of international student recruitment

International student recruitment enviornment is changing in terms of competition, policy framework and student profiles. In other words, push and pull variables of student mobility are transforming. In this context, US faces several challenge in recouping its lost share of globally mobile students. One approach in overcoming challenges and ensuring long-term success is to build competencies and capacites that adapt and respond to this new enviornment.

Given below is my article published in University World News

A recent commentary in University World News highlighted issues facing US higher education in sustaining international student growth rates. Although some of the concerns raised are relevant, they mask the latent strength in the scale, diversity and capacity of the American higher education system to become a more attractive player in the international student mobility arena.

The concept of international student recruitment in the US is a relatively new development. It gained traction in response to post-recession budget cuts, primarily in public higher education institutions.

The external environment prompted institutions to start recruiting international students, but the internal capacities and resources of many were ill prepared for this sudden shift towards a more proactive recruitment model.

Against a backdrop of higher expectations for international enrolment and declining budget support, this lack of internal capacity triggered the adoption of quick turnaround recruitment approaches. For example, several institutions started experimenting with commission-based recruitment agents, anticipating lower upfront costs.

These quick-fix practices, however, have created gaps in institutions’ ability to manage the qualitative risks associated with the use of agents and provide adequate support services to meet international student needs.

Research universities

Agent-using institutions are not necessarily the institutions that drive most of the international student enrolment growth. In fact, less than 3% of American institutions classified as "Research Universities (very high research activity-RU/VH)" by the Carnegie Classification are primarily responsible for overall expansion.

These 108 research universities increased their share of total international student enrolment in the US from 37.7% to 42.5% between 2010-11 and 2011-12, according to the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors survey. International student enrolment at these universities rose by 38%, compared to 23% for all institutions.

Until recently, most research universities did not actively ‘recruit’ as they could rely on strong word-of-mouth and institutional reputation. But with two-thirds of them being public institutions, they too could not shield themselves from the effects of the recent financial crisis.

This provoked several public institutions to begin recruiting international students, and this is evident from the much higher enrolment growth at some of the large public universities. For instance, Purdue University and the University of Washington each enrolled almost 3,000 more international students in the autumn of 2012 than the autumn of 2008.

When we look closely at the details of that expansion, we can see that research universities have witnessed a larger expansion in the enrolment of undergraduates than graduates. For example, at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), new international undergraduate student enrolment grew seven-fold – from 142 to 1,012 – between 2008 and 2012.

This is one example of many that show how research universities are attracting more and more undergraduate-level international students – a new phenomenon for these institutions known for their research excellence, an excellence that traditionally drew graduate students.

This trend towards an increasing undergraduate focus is driven by a fall in the funding available at graduate level and a higher revenue potential for self-funded undergraduate students. This pattern prevails across all institution types as international student growth is driven by undergraduate students.

In 2011-12, 24,793 more undergraduate international students than in the previous year were enrolled in US higher education institutions as compared to 3,856 at graduate level. Undergraduate-level students now make up 78% of total international student enrolment.

Thus, it is undeniable that recent growth in international student enrolment in the US is driven by an overarching trend: large public research universities reaching out to increasing numbers of undergraduate-level students.

Next phase of growth

In order to capitalise on the potential for the next phase of enrolment growth, US institutions must continue to build their internal capacity to actively recruit international students. This growth may be risky if institutions rely on quick-fix recruitment practices rather than long-term capacity building models.

In addition to insufficient institutional preparedness for the changing environment of international student recruitment, lack of a coherent national policy has also hindered the US from attracting more international students.

However, recent proactive measures taken by US government agencies, such as providing information through Study in the States, will nationally brand American higher education for international students. In addition, recent policy initiatives like offering green cards to STEM graduates will make the US even more attractive to international talent.

The US is a recent entrant in the world of international student recruitment and will remain highly attractive to international students from all parts of the world. The central challenge for the US is not its unsustainability, but rather building the capacity and competencies required to recruit international students while maintaining high standards.
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December 04, 2012

12 Things to Know about Asian Higher Education: ADB

Asian Development Bank posted 12 Things to Know in 2012: Higher Education on its website reasserting the issue of expansion of systems without preparedness to cope with quality and access. Here are the 12 issues and facts from ADB:
  1. Over the last 20 years, higher education systems across Asia have experienced a sharply increased demand for access.
  2. Universities in many developing member countries suffer from inadequate infrastructure and weak instruction. Low quality is the greatest challenge facing higher educations systems across the region.
  3. Financial support for higher education dropped sharply in the 1990s and 2000s as the central development challenge of the era was to expand access to basic education.
  4. The World Bank has argued that sustainable poverty reduction will not be achieved without a renaissance in the higher education systems of developing countries.
  5. Countries that give individuals one additional year of education can boost productivity and raise economic output by 3% to 6% over time.
  6. In any analysis of higher education issues across Asia, generalizations must be treated with great caution. The region includes some of the most affluent economies - Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Singapore - as well as some of the poorest like Cambodia and Lao PDR. It also includes PRC and India, the fastest growing higher education systems in the world.
  7. Unemployment among university graduates in Southeast Asia is on the rise – the highest is in Indonesia and Philippines.
  8. A World Bank study noted that 80% of Thai firms had difficulties filling jobs as graduates lacked basic and technical skills.
  9. Corruption is a major problem within universities in some developing member countries in Asia, evidenced by instances of plagiarism, falsification of data, and cheating on examinations.
  10. Across Asia, more faculty members are needed, with higher qualifications and better wages - current academic staff are stretched as they seek ways to make ends meet, and the attractiveness of the profession is declining.
  11. In Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, and Philippines, private universities enroll the majority of students - in some cases up to 80%.
  12. Since 1970, ADB has provided about $7.5 billion in loans to the education sector, of which 12% was for higher education.  
Source: ADB
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November 30, 2012

Management Education & GMAT Trends: India Recovering, China Growing

Number of GMAT test takers for the testing year 2012 (July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012) increased by 11% as compared to 2011, according to GMAC. Testing volume hit the highest record volume  286,529 after facing decline in volume for previous two years. TY 2012 volume was 8 percent higher than the previous record of 265,613 in 2009.

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November 21, 2012

Big Getting Bigger: Large Research Universities Driving the Growth of International Student Enrollment

Just 108 universities enrolled nearly two-fifth of all international students in the US. These 108 universities are classified as "Research Universities (very high research activity)" by Carnegie Classification. In fact, these universities drove most of the growth in the last five years and increased their share from 37.7% of total international student enrollment in the US to about 42.5%. International student enrollment at these universities grew by 38% as compared to 23% for all institutions, according to IIE Open Doors report. Clearly indicating a trend towards "big getting bigger."

It is also interesting to note that two-thirds of the Research Universities (very high research activity) are publicly institutions like University of Iowa and University at Buffalo and not the private universities. This relates to the narrative of budget cuts in public institutions and hence higher acceptance of international students to meet some of the shortfall. Here is a related post of examples of dramatic increase of international students at some public institutions.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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November 12, 2012

International Student Enrollment Trends: China, Saudi Arabia and Public Universities Driving Growth

Yet another year of growth in international student enrollment in the U.S. according to the latest IIE Open Doors 2012 data.  This time growth is driven by two primary factors 1) who can pay and 2) who wants students who can pay.

Who can pay? China and Saudi Arabia
Number of students from China and Saudi Arabia grew by 47,906 as compared to increase in total enrollment by 41,044. This means that without the double digit growth of China (23%) and Saudi (50%), total enrollment in the US would have declined. Both these countries higher ability to afford foreign education.

While both these markets have common thread of growth and ability to pay, they differ in terms of level of education and sources of funding. For China, most of the growth is coming from undergraduate enrolled funded by students' family while for Saudi Arabia growth is at English language programs funded by Saudi government scholarships.

Note: IIE Open Doors has a lag of one year so, the current report reflects the enrollment of foreign students in the US for academic year 2011-12 (Fall'11).

Who wants students who can pay? Public universities (I know real answer is everyone)

Another important driver of growth have been proactive outreach and acceptance by large public universities. Post-recession budget cuts in state universities and colleges have become an annual affair which in turn has prompted many institutions to increase their focus on international students which pay much higher out-of-state tuition fee. These public institutions have a reputation to attract and absorb large number of international students. In particular, China and Saudi are becoming attractive to many public institutions due to students' ability to fully pay for the education.

(copyright) Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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November 06, 2012

Which are the Emerging Markets for International Student Recruitment?

World Education Services released a report entitled "Beyond More of the Same: The Top Four Emerging Markets for International Student Recruitment" co-authored by me and Yoko Kono. Here is the highlight of the report published in University World News.

International student recruitment has become increasingly competitive as institutional budgets continue to shrink. More than ever, higher education institutions are expected to recruit quality students in a short period of time.

Most institutions rely on traditional source countries to achieve this goal, as penetrating an existing market for enrolment growth is a less costly route in terms of effort, expenditure and time.

As a result, students from China, India and South Korea are overrepresented on campuses. On some, Chinese students make up over half of the non-domestic student population. This is the case at the University of Iowa, where Chinese students comprised more than 70% of international undergraduates in 2011.

There is increasing pressure on institutions to attract international students from a broader range of countries, as they look to diversify their student bodies.

A recent research report published by World Education Services aims to address the information needs of higher education institutions by systematically identifying key emerging markets and offering near-term strategies to successfully nurture them.

The research was based on a two-round Delphi survey – a mixed method forecasting technique based on the anonymity and expertise of participants.

The top four emerging markets

The report identifies four emerging markets for international student recruitment and provides comprehensive background information on each country. Here is the summary:

Saudi Arabia
With more than 23,000 students currently enrolled in US institutions, Saudi Arabia is and will continue to be an encouraging market, due to the extension of the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme to 2020.

US institutions that offer intensive English programmes and skillfully engage with sponsoring agencies have the greatest potential to recruit from this rich pool of fully sponsored students.

Due to the launch of the Brazil Scientific Mobility Programme, US institutions can expect a healthy flow of nearly 50,000 Brazilian students enrolling in short-term programmes over the next four years. Institutions that effectively differentiate themselves from competitors can capitalise on this market opportunity.

High recruitment potential is attributable to Vietnam’s growing middle-class and strong study abroad interest. Vietnamese students are the third largest body of international students at American community colleges. Institutions of higher education that identify and reach Vietnamese students with the financial means to study in the US should enjoy a good deal of recruiting success in the coming years.

Opportunities to recruit from Turkey are primarily from its graduate market and dual degree programmes. Turkey is recognised as a tough market to develop, but one with a lot of potential. Higher education institutions can overcome barriers by understanding the preferences and academic needs of Turkish student segments.

Portfolio approach to international recruitment

One of the key recommendations of the report is that institutions should consider adopting a portfolio approach to international recruitment, to mitigate the challenges that emerging markets pose.

Institutions that build a portfolio of countries to diversify their student body reduce financial risks and remain competitive. As mentioned, the emerging markets that institutions should target for their near-term recruitment efforts are Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Vietnam and Turkey.

The growth potential of these emerging markets along with the high volume countries like China, India and South Korea, offers a more balanced and de-risked outreach strategy.

While emerging markets present opportunities and potential for enrolment growth, they also pose corresponding challenges and uncertainties. To this end, the report recommends a portfolio of practices to help institutions cultivate emerging markets.

For example, institutions should leverage their institutional competitive advantage by developing relationships with organisations that fund and-or administer overseas scholarships (for example, the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission).

Likewise, institutions should engage with current and former students from emerging markets as brand ambassadors, particularly through social media. This represents a low-cost approach of experimenting with emerging markets and student segments, and then working on one or more in a concerted manner.

In closing, institutions need to recognise the risk of over-relying on a few countries to achieve their international recruitment goals. This over-reliance may not only adversely affect the diversity of the international student body on campus but also the financial health of some institutions.

It is imperative for higher education institutions to have a proactive and informed strategy to de-risk their efforts and prepare for the changing context of international student recruitment from emerging markets.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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October 30, 2012

Chinese and Indian Higher Education Enrollment Statistics

China and India are the two largest higher education systems in the world with total enrollment of 29.1 million and 26.7 million students as compared to 21 million in the U.S in 2010.

India has the largest system in the world in terms of undergraduate enrollment of 19.8 m. students as compared to 12.7 m. in China and 10.4 million in the U.S.

In contrast, India has much smaller proportion of students enrolled in the vocational education. This highlights the skilled manpower shortage in India which is simply ballooning with time.

Indian sociocultural enviornment creates aspirations for bachelor's degree even if they do not offer employment opportunities. After earning bachelor's degree many continue for master's education in hope for subsequently getting jobs. This situation of postgraduate unemployment is also emerging in China. Indian students (2.7 m.) at master's level are also more than double as compared to China (1.2  m.).

This fascination for getting advanced degrees suddenly stops as the doctoral level where India has one-third of students in China. Here is my earlier article on the qualitative and quantitative challenges in India on two extremes of higher education--vocational and doctoral.

Source: AISHE, Ministry of Education, China

Copyright Dr. Rahul Choudaha
This blog post can only to be used with full credit to the author and hot link to the post.
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October 24, 2012

Types of Universities in India and Growth of "Private State Universities"

Private Universities in India have grown from 16 to 140 in five years (124%) and from 100 to 140 in less than a year. This is astonishing growth as only universities in India have degree awarding power. Colleges are "affiliated" to universities as teaching institutions.

Indian higher education is not only large in scope but complex in its working and evolution. One indicator is existence of four different types of universities depending on who funds them and regulates them. For example, Deemed to be Universities come under the purview of UGC and are mostly funded by private resources (Here is a previous comprehensive story and a more recent development). They were also in controversy for corruption and qualitative deficiencies for profiteering. This also tainted the name of some of the better quality private Deemed to be Universities. Here is the list of Deemed to be Universities.

Given the regulatory and media attention to the deficiencies with Deemed to be Universities, Private Universities gained traction. This is evident from their growth from 100 to 140 in less than a year as compared to no growth of Deemed to be Universities in the same period.Her is the list of Private Universities in India.

Here are some related definitions from UGC.

University is defined as "a University established or incorporated by or under a Central Act, a Provincial Act or a State Act, and includes any such institution as may, in consultation with the University concerned, be recognized by the Commission in accordance with the regulations made in this behalf under this Act."

Private University is defined as "A university established through a State/ Central Act by a sponsoring body viz. a Society registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860, or any other corresponding law for the time being in force in a State or a Public Trust or a Company registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956."

Deemed University is defined as "An Institution Deemed to be University commonly known as Deemed University refers to a high‐performing institute, which has been so declared by Central Government under Section 3 of the University Grants Commission (UGC) Act, 1956."

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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October 14, 2012

What Blackberry can teach foreign branch campuses about MOOCs?

Here is the excerpt from my article published in University World News.

In 2007, BlackBerry was at the forefront of the smartphones industry with over 40% of the market share in the United States. However, the iPhone offered a new choice to consumers and redefined their expectations of a smartphone.

Now Blackberry is arguably on its deathbed, with its market share slipping to less than 4% in the US. The Wall Street Journal notes that “it was a blinding confidence in the basic BlackBerry product that was at the root of RIM's [parent company of Blackberry] current troubles”.

In the same vein, MOOCs are beginning to offer a new choice to students, and are not only changing the financial equation of foreign branch campuses but also the way education is delivered as a result of technological advances.

In my previous blog [Could MOOCs lead to the decline of branch campuses?], I argued that branch campuses are infrastructure-intensive efforts with high financial and reputational risk. In contrast, MOOCs offer a low-cost, flexible alternative for ‘glocal’ students [Are you prepared for the arrival of 'glocal' students?] to potentially earn a foreign credential. Yet some branch campuses may be turning a blind eye to this alternative choice, which may lead them into the BlackBerry fallacy.

Many institutions may be caught off-guard due to the pace of MOOCs' evolution. Here are some of the recent developments:
  • Coursera has signed up 17 more institutions, including Brown University and Columbia University, to offer courses to its 1.35 million students. It gets 4% of its students (50,000+) from China and getting more traction.
  • edX has also announced a partnership with Pearson’s testing centres to allow its students to take proctored exams, which in turn would provide a pathway for earning credit.
  • Colorado State University’s Global Campus announced it would give transfer credits to Udacity students who have taken a proctored test.
  • Moody’s Investors Service "observes that MOOCs have the potential to transform the way distance learning is perceived and delivered"
While I recognised some of the obstacles concerning their revenue model and credentials system as “the MOOCs unknowns” in my previous post, there are admittedly additional challenges of plagiarism and employer acceptance.

I still believe that, despite these challenges, in the next few years MOOCs will mature from irrational exuberance to a more sustainable model that fundamentally changes the form and character of foreign branch campuses.

Existing branch campuses, especially those supported by government funding or having reputable brand names attached to them, are less likely to be impacted by MOOCs.

However, newer branch campuses will face unexpected competition from MOOCs and existing campuses could become more attractive to students seeking a campus experience because there are fewer new branch campuses.

Institutions should monitor, understand and adapt to the brave new world of MOOCs and their influence on internationalisation strategies and international students. As The New Yorker summed up the fate of Blackberry: “The real problem is that the technology world changed, and RIM didn’t.”
Here is a video from Daphne Koller of Coursera making case for MOOCs for improving global access to education.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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October 05, 2012

Update on NACAC's Commission on international student recruitment: Will political correctness take away practical relevance?

This blog post comes from Denver with a sense of nostalgia from my time at the University of Denver during my doctoral program. I am back in Denver after four years to present at NACAC national conference which focuses on undergraduate enrollment. Here are two updates from the conference:

Debate on commission-based recruitment agents
Tis' the season of debates in Denver and NACAC’s Commission on International Student Recruitment also presented its update on commission-based recruitment agent. Here are the presentation slides from the Commission and a recent Chronicle post entitled Weighing Ethical Issues in International Recruitment by Philip Ballinger and David Hawkins.

The Commissions work is one of the most inclusive and engaging conversations on this issue and many eagerly await to see the final findings to be released in September 2013. I agree with the Commission's emphasis on the importance of context, transparency and outcomes, however, I argue that this debate is not as much about ethics as it is about enforceable code of practice. This is especially important that now regulators are also getting involved in this debate. A recent bill, although defeated, clearly excluded graduates of institutions using agents as one of the criteria for awarding green cards. It stated "Not provide incentive payments to persons based on securing foreign students for the university."

During Q&A session, I asserted that  the Commission has rightfully acknowledged the importance of transparency, however, what is Commission's approach for enforcing transparency on institutions and then institutions in turn enforcing it on agents? For example, can we imagine a scenario where institutions will explicitly state on their websites if they work with agent and what commissions they pay, and would this information be available to students?  I guess, it was either  too difficult or dumb question for me to ask, because the only answer I received was "yes, we can 'imagine' anything."

Some of the phrases mentioned by the Commission in this update included "debate evolved from absolute reality", "it had been an intellectual and educational process", importance of "institutional responsibility and transparency" and "NACAC is a an utterly voluntary association." Reading between the lines, I really hope that the Commission does not end up with politically correct recommendations falling short of any practical relevance to the profession, institutions and students.

Presentation on cost-effective international student recruitment
I chaired a session entitled "Cost-Effective International Recruitment: What Works, What Doesn’t" with following co-presenters:
- Aimee Thostenson, Associate Director, International Admission at St. Catherine University
- David Joiner, Director for Global Engagement and Leadership at University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison
- Marty Bennett, EducationUSA Outreach Coordinator at Institute of International Education

My premise for organizing this session was that context of international student recruitment has changed and so practices should evolve accordingly. For example:
- Student information search behavior has changed: This week facebook cross 1 billion user mark but what is even more remarkable is that more than 800 million users are outside US with median age of 22.
-Markets have changed: China and Saudi Arabia has emerged as new growth market for undergraduage recruitment while Japan has declined.

Aimee shared armchair recruitment strategies including value of external partnerships with sponsoring agencies, while David shared value of internal partnerships (on-campus) to maximize the synergies. Finally, Marty highlighted value of educationUSA, consortia and social media as networks. The common theme in all the presentations was role of networks and relationships in achieving cost-effective results. Here are the slides.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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September 19, 2012

EAIE Conference 2012: Research, recruitment and collaborations

4000+ professionals in international education administration attended EAIE conference in Dublin. Overall, the conference had some interesting sessions, excellent keynotes and opportunity to network.
I co-presented three sessions at the conference on the themes of research, recruitment and collaborations:

1. Journeys of discovery in researching internationalisation of higher education:
This workshop was chaired by Hans de Wit, director of the Centre for Higher Education Internationalisation (CHEI) of the Catholic University of Sacro Cuore in Milan, Italy. Other co-presenters were, Laura Rumbley, associate director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College and Gabriele Bosley, director, International Programs at Bellarmine University.

This was the workshop for practitioners who would like to integrate research in improving their work or even engage with doctoral work. It provided an overview of the state of research in internationliasation of higher education with emphasis on challenges and opportunities in developing and pursuing a research agenda.

My key message for aspiring researchers was "think different" as there is no dearth of content and research in this world of information overload. It takes a skill to find that unique angle and gap and then executing that research agenda with project management skills.

2. International recruitment strategy: defining priorities, delivering results
I charied this session on developing and executing international recruitment strategy with Andrew P. Disbury  Director of the International Office,  Leeds Metropolitan University; Julian Longbottom Director, Marketing and International University of Canberra and Martin Bickl Director, International Office Goethe-Universität.

This session was a full-house with nearly 200 participants. The purpose was to provide a comparative perspective on how institutions in different parts of the world are responding to a competitive environment and shaping their recruitment strategies. It ranged from aggressive outreach to students with a "customer service" mindset at the Leeds to recruiting "not for cash but for talent and diversity" with limited resources at Goethe.

3. Engaging with Asia: proven practices and strategies 
I chaired this session on Asia partnerships with experts in building partnerships including  Dr. Stephen Dunnett, Vice Provost for International Education, University at Buffalo-SUNY; Dr. Robert Coelen Vice-President International, Stenden University and Dr. Duleep Deosthale, Vice President - International Education, Manipal International University.

It highlighted that Asian education systems have varying levels of maturity, diversity and complexity which in turn presents unique opportunities and challenges for foreign institutions interested in collaborations. Dunnett mentioned that forging collaborations is "not for the faint-hearted: prolonged negotiations are required, with a major investment of time and effort." Coelen quipped that inter-instiutional partnerships need to go beyond "two-glasses of wine" which usually conclude with "...the more wine, the more similar we are." Deosthale suggested that your partner's partner could be your partner is one way to expand the network. Ed Porter mentioned that working with Indian institutions could require lot of patience especially due to regulatory complexity, how can one achieve it? I answered--join Yoga.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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September 10, 2012

Impact of London Met trouble on international student mobility

London Met is now the poster-child of how frequently changing immigration policies coupled with institutional desperation for recruiting foreign students for revenue rationales could hurt future of many. Student are disillusioned and frustrated, London Met has lost its reputation and the UK has put at risk its credibility to attract international students in the immediate term. After tightening of student visa norms and requirement of interviews for international students, London Met fiasco is too detrimental for the UK higher education.

This in turn is going to financially hurt London Met and the UK higher education. "In 2010-11, English universities increased their income from overseas student tuition fees by 16 per cent to £2.5 billion. Fees paid by overseas students made up 10.9 per cent of the sector's income, 'the highest on record', according to the Higher Education Funding Council for England.  The loss of its licence will likely cause great financial pain for London Met. In 2010-11, some 15 per cent of its £157.8 million income came from foreign student fees."

At the same time, there is no doubt that visa system had been abused and a nexus of some institutions-agents have worked to make some international students find way in the country by using education as a pathway to immigration. Late last year, 450 private colleges, which recruited nearly 11,000 international students were banned from recruiting international students due to  failure to meet immigration standards.

Even in the case of London Met "The UKBA found 'serious and systemic failures' in systems to weed out fraudulent applications by those trying to get around immigration rules and enter the U.K. on student visas", according to the Wall Street Journal. Here is BBC analysis on why London Met University been banned from recruiting non-EU foreign students?

A study by World Education Services, noted that "Strugglers" are more likely to be academically under-prepared and lack financial resources. This is also the segment which uses external support of third-party agents to as they need help in navigating the application process and in making their aspiration to immigrate at any cost. Here is my earlier post "Degrees at Any Cost" and "Are Student Recruitment Agents Creating More Dickinson Universities?"

In the case of London Met, recruitment agents have "washed off hands", according to Times of India. London Met had a representative office in India which was closed in July and it had been working with a network of agents. Of course, now no one wants to take ownership and blame others for deficiencies.

In the immediate short term, student mobility traffic from the UK will redirect to Australia, US and Canada. This will help Australia to gain back some of the the loss in last couple of years due to safety and immigration issues, while US will gain numbers at the master's level programs driven by more aggressive outreach by institutions and Canada will attract more students with immigration intent.

While the UK is expected to start recovering in a couple of years, London Met case has impacted many--directly and indirectly. It is a lesson for international higher education professional that not knowing student segments and delegating recruiting to third party-agents at the cost of rigorous standards can have serious implications of the future of your institution.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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September 06, 2012

How China Saved International Student Enrollment in the US?

Growth of Chinese students enrolling in global higher education systems is no news. In my earlier post, I estimated that nearly 750,000 Chinese students apply to study abroad every year. However, the dramatic growth and increasing dependence on China becomes striking when put in perspective of enrollment change in the last decade.  

In 2002, India was the leading source of international students enrolling nearly 67,000 students in American higher education institutions, followed by China with nearly 63,000 students. By 2011, number of Indian students grew by 55% to 104,000 and Chinese students grew by 150% to 158,000 students. This was also the period when Japanese enrollment dropped by 40% from 47,000 to 28,000. 

Chinese enrollment did not grew at a rapid pace until 2008, when enrollment grew by nearly 20% for the first time and added 13,000 students. This was also the time when India was still the leading source country by a margin of 14,000 more students as compared to Chinese; Korea was growing at a healthy pace and Japan was continuing to decline. 

Another couple of years of robust growth of Chinese students made it the largest source country in 2010, surpassing India. It was the time when Korea was also stagnating and Japan was sliding further. 

American institutions have benefited greatly from the unprecedented and surprising growth of Chinese students in the campus to fill the gap created by stagnant or declining numbers from other source countries. However, many now face qualitative and diversity challenges on their campuses. This also means that institutions need to be aware of the marketplace changes in a more proactive manner.

Going forward, with the upcoming IIE Open Doors report in November, I expect continued trend of growth of Chinese students. 
Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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September 01, 2012

Transparency for a Change in Higher Education

Given below is my recent article published in the Economic Times Blog on the need of a transparent and accountable higher education system to enhance quality and foster competition.

Indian higher education system has expanded at a break-neck speed. Nearly 20,000 colleges were added between 2000-01 and 2010-11 and the number of students enrolled doubled from nearly 8.4 million to 17 million in this decade, according to the University Grants Commission (UGC).

However, this much needed expansion came at the expense of quality. The number of seats remaining vacant in some disciplines like engineering, underemployment and unemployment among educated youth and incessant desire to collect more degrees for advancing career are some of the indicators of the inadequate quality of education imparted. In addition, we continue to hear cases of malpractices and corruption among regulators and institutions in compromising standards.

Minister Kapil Sibal has attempted to bring a change by proposing a dozen legislative bills including The Higher Education and Research Bill, 2011 and The Prohibition of Unfair Practices in Educational Institutions, 2010.  Unfortunately, most are still far from seeing the light of the day. Even if they get enacted, I do not see major qualitative changes in Indian higher education. The reason is that they are still not addressing the fundamental weakness of the system—lack of transparency.

The policy reform directions are seriously limited by its political approach of using control as the way of assuring quality rather than using transparency for empowering students and fostering competition.

One specific recommendation to achieve goals of transparency is to mandate high standards of data disclosures by institutions on institutional performance and feed this data to an easy-to-use national database for students to make informed choice.

Let us consider the case of regulation in the financial system. How is transparency ensured in publicly traded companies? It is through mandatory and easily available audited financial reports coupled with the oversight by the regulator-Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI).

In contrast, there is no availability of parallel information of institutional performance for higher education institutions. This results in all sorts of academic, financial, regulatory and marketing malpractices.

Transparency through data reporting and information sharing is an important policy-tool enforced by the U.S. Department of Education where the National Center for Education Statistics collects, collates, analyzes, and reports on American education. It uses this mandatory data reported by institutions for a free website—CollegeNavigator—to assist students in searching and comparing colleges on various parameters.

Currently, AICTE has the mandatory disclosure requirement, however, it has serious limitations in terms of the kind of information collected and the way it is presented. It is very hard to compare information across several institutions and students cannot use it for informed decision-making.

Imagine a scenario where anyone can see information online about all the approved higher education institutions and the programs available to students with their detailed performance indicators. This information would be invaluable for students in deciding which programs to pursue and thus creating a state of enhanced competition among institutions. In addition, policy-makers and researchers will have access to rich-data for further improving system.

Indian higher education is in desperate need of reform. The political approach of using control as the way of assuring quality should give way to information-based approach to enable transparency and accountability in the system.

- Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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August 30, 2012

Mapping international student segments with recruitment channels

International students seeking to attend an American higher education institution differ by academic preparedness and financial resources, and these differences impact their preferences and information-seeking behavior during college search, according to a new report from World Education Services (WES)--a New York-based non-profit with over 35 years of experience in international education research and credential evaluation.

The publication, Not All International Students Are the Same: Understanding Segments, Mapping Behavior, presents findings from a survey of international students in the process of applying to U.S. colleges and universities. The survey, which was administered from October 2011 to March 2012, received responses from nearly 1,600 prospective international students from 115 countries.

The report identified four distinct international student segments based on academic preparedness and financial resources: Strivers, Strugglers, Explorers and Highfliers.

Strivers form the traditional segment of students coming to the U.S. They are highly prepared for academic work and expect to receive financial aid from their host institution. In contrast, Explorers form an emerging segment of students who can cover tuition fees but are not fully prepared for college-level coursework, indicating their need for academic support, particularly in English language training.

Highfliers are the most sought after as they are academically prepared and financially able. However, their attraction to a narrow circle of top-ranked institutions makes it difficult for lower ranked institutions to compete for them. Strugglers are less selective about their college choice, but they require additional pre- and post-enrollment assistance and have less access to financial resources.

The study found that just one-sixth of the survey respondents reported that they had used an recruitment agent during their college search. Student segments with lower academic preparedness—Explorers and Strugglers—were found to be more likely to use agent services.

Source: World Education Services

Related stories
Buyer beware, Inside Higher Ed
Knowing who the international student is will help with recruitment, University World News
From 'Strivers' to 'Highfliers,' report explores spectrum of foreign students, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Socio-economic status of Indian, Chinese students going abroad differs, says study, The Hindu

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August 20, 2012

How many Indian and Chinese students go abroad every year?

How many Indian and Chinese students go overseas to study every year? How many Indian and Chinese undergraduate students apply to US universities every year? What is the market size of Indian and Chinese student recruitment sector?

There are different estimates floating in the market as there is no authoritative data available to answer these questions. Most of the data available reports total enrollment (stock) and not annual new enrollment (flow). Global Education Digest reports total enrollment foreign students and not their annual outflow. Likewise, IIE Open Doors reports total enrollment in the US. So, we have to derive this number indirectly.

I have used NSF report (2010) for deriving my estimates, as it offers new enrollment in the U.S. by country and level.

Based on the calculations show in the table, it is estimated that
  • ~31,400 Chinese and ~39,000 Indian students come to study in the U.S. every year
  • Number of new Chinese undergraduate students is three-times that of Indian students (~9,600 vs. ~3,200)
  • Number of new Indian master's students is more than all of new Chinese students (~32,400 vs. ~31,400)
It is interesting to note that contrary to popular perception, more Indian students may be coming to the US as compared to Chinese. This is due to enrollment pattern of Chinese students which are concentrated in longer duration Undergraduate and Doctorate programs as compared to shorter duration master's programs where nearly 70% of Indian students are enrolled.

This calculation can be extended to estimate the global mobility of Indian and Chinese students on an annual basis. From, Global Education Digest, we know that the U.S. forms ~20% and ~50% of total global enrollment of Chinese (510, 000) and Indian students (195,000). Thus, we can extrapolate the calculations from the table to derive that nearly 156, 700 Chinese and 80,500 Indians go abroad every year. This estimate is limited by the fact that enrollment of Chinese and Indian students in US may not be representative of other destinations. For example, Australia enrolls disproportionately higher number of Indian students at vocational level as compared to the U.S.

Based on the number of students going abroad every year, one can also estimate the market size of aspiring applicants and hence recruitment market. Assuming that every students who enrolls abroad there are five times as many students applying. This gives us an estimate of nearly 750,000 Chinese and 400,000 Indian students applying to study abroad every year. No wonder, international student recruitment is a massive and growing business.

Of course, these are derived estimates, based on assumptions. I would welcome thoughts and suggestions to for improving the estimates.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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August 12, 2012

Could the birth of MOOCs lead to death of international branch campuses?

Could MOOCs change higher education the way emails changed postal services? I believe so. In nearly two decades, emails have changed the economic structure of postal services. An article in the New York Times in 2005 argued Why the Internet Isn't the Death of the Post Office. Seven years, later, US Postal Services is in deep trouble and it is projecting a loss of $15 billion this year. Does that mean that postal services will vanish. No--postal services will co-exist with emails. Postal services have to redefine the cost-structures, including human resources which account for 80% of cost, to remain viable in this world of instant and free communication.

Likewise, MOOCS are challenging traditional higher education to redefine its cost structure. Of course, they pose no threat to to top quartile of competitive institutions which provide access to higher socioeconomic advancement, but the next tier of institutions will face a new world of fast-paced, technology-based competition, which many are not prepared to compete with.

MOOCs are in the infancy stage and there are still many unknowns about how they will make their impact felt on higher education, including their revenue model for offering ‘free’ courses. And yes, it does feel like dot-com frenzy where online business models launched and failed, but in the end the Internet survived and got stronger than ever before. Likewise, MOOCs will take few years to move from irrational exuberance to sustainable maturity.

A special case of impact of MOOCs is on international student mobility and branch campuses. Could the birth of MOOCs lead to death of international branch campuses?

Branch campuses are infrastructure-intensive efforts with high financial and reputational risk, which could become increasingly unsustainable. Here is my article entitled Could MOOCs Lead to the Decline of Branch Campuses? which was published in University World News.

Like post-offices, branch campuses are not going away in the short term, especially the ones that have been in existence for a while. However, newer branch campuses will face unexpected competition from MOOCs. Institutions expecting to start or expand full-fledged campuses in times of disruptive online learning models need to think twice about their internationalisation strategies.


Related articles
The online pecking order
Top universities test the online appeal of free
Yes, MOOC is the global higher education game changer
MOOCs: a massive opportunity for higher education, or digital hype?

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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August 04, 2012

Degrees at any cost: The rise of international student visa frauds

Herguan University, is yet another unaccredited American institution which preyed on aspirations of many Indian students by offering them pathways to the US using forged documents. Herguan follows earlier cases of Tri Valley University and University of Norther Virginia.

According to US ICE, Jerry Wang, 34- year old CEO of Herguan University and the University of East-West Medicine is charged with "conspiracy to commit visa fraud; use of false documents; aggravated identity theft; and unauthorized access to government computers." Majority of 450 students at Herguan are from India. Any guess, how these students were recruited?

I believe that in addition to unscrupulous activities of some universities, agents play an important role in this process. Here is my related post from last year--"International recruitment agents: Playing with fire?"

Herguan is listed as one of the universities for HoneyWorld--a Hyderabad-based education agent. Interestingly, Herguan is listed along with University of Bridgeport, Colorado State University and Wright State University among American universities served by HoneyWorld. This shows the risks involved for established brands in engaging with agent relationships. Some parents reported in Deccan Herald that "local consultants [agents] had lured them with job permits while studying and in some cases even assured that the students could work anywhere in the US if they went to Herguan University, and that there was no need to attend classes regularly."

Here is interesting discussion thread from 2009 mentioning student "referrals" which allow discounted tuition for students who recruit more students. Here is another example.

In my recent post, I highlighted that this is a very vulnerable time for Indian students as they are in the "search stage" of identifying their best fit options and given the double whammy of affordability and visa policy challenges, number of Indian students going abroad may get negatively impacted for fall 2012 admissions cycle.

In this vulnerable stage, US still seemed to be in a better shape as compared to other destinations because some of the traffic from Australia and the UK was expected to redirect to the US. However, Herguan may pose serious threat to Indian students headed to the US. There have already been reports of higher denials of visa by American embassies as seen in student discussion forums, and Herguan will make things tougher.

Visa related frauds which use education as pathways for immigration are an evidence of insatiable appetite for "foreign degrees" at any cost--fraud is accepted as fair by many and it is being propelled by technological sophistication.

In a recent article, Corruption in International Higher Education, Phil Altbach asserted "The first step in solving a major challenge to higher education internationalisation is recognition of the problem itself." Unfortunately, many do not want to recognize the problem and few others continue to fuel it.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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July 29, 2012

Undergraduate application trends from Asia to the UK

Admissions seasons in the UK is in high gear. A recent article in the Guardian notes, "This is the first cohort of undergraduates paying fees of up to £9,000 a year and uncertainty about how they will behave has been giving university heads some seriously sleepless nights....And there is no doubt that, in this complicated game of admissions poker, the stakes are alarmingly high."

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July 25, 2012

Higher barriers for Indian students wanting to study abroad

2012 is turning dreams of many Indian students for studying abroad into nightmare.

Cost and challenges of affordability: Economic slowdown in India and currency depreciation has made foreign education more expensive. Karin Fischer of the Chronicle in her article Colleges Are Wary of Global Economy's Effect on Foreign Enrollments highlighted these cost challenges for Indian students. I mentioned in the article that there are two distinct segments of students--affluent and aspiring. Affluent students are prestige-conscious while aspiring students are price-conscious. It is the aspiring segment which is struggling to find its way to study abroad.

Fraud and tighter visa policies: All major destination countries are becoming more vigilant about the fraud issues. In June, UK, Australia and Canada announced a joint-statement for curbing immigration fraud. The statement cautions students "Do not be misled by unscrupulous agents into believing that it is acceptable to submit forged documents with your visa application. The application will be refused and you face further investigation by the Indian authorities." UK has already tightened its visa norms as they found from a pilot study that the UK could’ve rejected 59% of Indian student visas.

In the same month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report DHS Needs to Assess Risks and Strengthen Oversight Functions which highlighted that "...during fiscal year 2011, CTCEU (Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit) analyzed 48 percent more leads on potential school and student visa fraud than in fiscal year 2010." The report noted examples like Tri-Valley University where institution was involved in fraud.

This is a very vulnerable time for Indian students as they are in the "search stage" of identifying their best fit options and given the double whammy of affordability and visa policy challenges, number of Indian students going abroad may get seriously influenced for fall 2012 admissions cycle.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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July 15, 2012

Indian "glocal" students go to China to study medicine

China continues to gain traction as a destinations for many Indian students aiming to pursue a degree in medicine. This is a prime example of Glocal students--global aspiration, local education. Glocals are characterized by aspirations that usually outstrip both their ability to afford a full fee-paying overseas education and their academic merit to gain admission to an overseas institution with financial aid. Here is the full article on glocals.

Why are Indian students interested in China?
Apart from China's attractiveness for lower cost of education and admissions standards, there is serious capacity constraint in India and competition for admission in medical colleges in India is intense to say the least.

An article aimed at attracting Indian medical students to China posted on China Education and Research Network (CERNET) by China's University And College Admission System (CUCAS) states:

"Are you an Indian student wandering how to become a doctor? Scared by the high admission requirement and expensive tuition fee? Why not take a glance at the MBBS programs in China universities? The lower admission requirement, relatively lower tuition fee, and internationally recognized degree have attracted thousands of Indian students to China."
CUCAS offers very detailed information related to medical degree with specific focus on Indian students including article like  "Top 10 Reasons to Study MBBS in China" and "Cost Comparison of Studying MBBS in US, UK, China, India and Pakistan"

There are also issues of quality of programs and recognition of medical degree from China in India. To this end, Indian Embassy also posted guidelines for Indian students interested in studying in China. Among their factors to consider they even added "Because of incorrect information received from agents or other sources, it has been seen that many students come to China without the required financial resources or support....Students are exploited by some agents in India who present a false picture of what life is like in China and by unscrupulous educational institutions."

In addition, Medical Council of India (MCI) and Chinese government has worked to facilitate information dissemination to prospective Indian students. Currently, only 50 Chinese medical institutions are approved to accept international students for English medium instruction programs. The approved annual intake of international students in Chinese medical institutions increased from 2,095 to 5,030 in five years from 2007-08 to 2012-13 indicating a clear increase in demand.

Here is a video clip from CNN-IBN "Made in China" Indian doctors.


Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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July 04, 2012

Interest in Foreign MBA: Chinese Women on Top

Interest for studying Business/Management programs abroad has significantly grown among Chinese women as seen from the number of GMAT test-takers.

Chinese women outstrip all segments among BRIC countries both in terms of percentage growth and absolute numbers of GMAT test-takers, even surpassing males in all four countries. With more than 25,000 Chinese women taking GMAT in 2010-11, it is the single largest segment showing consistent growth over the years.

Number of Chinese women taking GMAT increased by nearly 18,000 in five years from 2006-07 to 2010-11 as compared to decline in women test-takers in the US by 2,775 from 48,510 to 45,735 in the same period.

It seems that a confluence of sociocultural and economic factors are offering more opportunities for Chinese women to study business programs abroad.


Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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June 24, 2012

Could MOOCs revolutionize international student recruitment and transnational education?

MOOCs--Massive Open and Online Courses, have been in news for their potential to be "revolutionary" in learning space. Tom Friedman says that "Big breakthroughs happen when what is suddenly possible meets what is desperately necessary."

With innovative, adaptive, high-quality learning opportunity offered at a low-cost, perhaps, MOOCs are at the cusp of making a big breakthrough. It is not only going to increase competitive pressure on for-profit online education sector but also traditional not-for-profit universities and colleges. Both of them have to justify their cost-structures and value of credential in times of increasing competition and decreasing resources.

In the world of international higher education, I believe that MOOCs offer two unintentional influences:

1. International Student Recruitment:
Given that international student recruitment is a costly and complex affair which is becoming even more challenging with the limitations of using recruitment agents, MOOCs offers an innovative model of engaging prospective students through content and cultivating a pipeline without losing control of process.

When you buy a car, you take a test drive, wouldn't it be a great value for prospective students to take a test course before they apply?

There is already an evidence of significant interest for MOOCs from abroad. In fact, for Coursera, nearly three-fourth of the course-takers are from outside the US.

One of the companies "Udacity has suggested that it might double as a headhunter for companies that might like to hire some of its more impressive students....Udacity would offer to match students with companies that have enlisted Udacity as a talent scout."

2. Transnational Education: 
At another level, MOOCs will propel the growth of transnational education and glocal students. I define glocals students as having global aspirations with local experiences. Glocals represent the segment of students who typically seek transnational education (TNE) including international branch campuses, twinning arrangements and online education.

For example, more than 113,000 students studied wholly overseas for a UK qualification through "Distance, flexible or distributed learning" in 2010-11. Likewise, more than 28,000 international students were enrolled in Australian offshore programs through distance learning in 2010.

Now, American institutions could enter transnational education market in an innovative way through MOOCs.

Currently MOOCs courses are not credit bearing, however, as pathways for translating "prior-learning" from MOOCs into credentials emerge, more glocal students will start pursuing MOOCs.
Tina Grant, director of the National College Credit Recommendation Service notes "Credit recommendations for MOOCs could serve as a 'bridge' between the nontraditional and traditional college settings by helping those students who want to take advantage of MOOCs and still earn a college degree."


Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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June 17, 2012

Latest Statistics on Indian Higher Education

University Grants Commission (UGC) released a report "Higher education in India at a glance" summarizing key datapoints of relevance for policymakers and administrators. Here are three charts from the report:

1. Massive expansion in supply of colleges: 
India added nearly 20,000 colleges in a decade (increased from 12,806 in 2000-01 to 33,023 in 2010-11) which translate into a growth of more than 150%. Number of degree granting universities more than doubled from 256 to 564, primarily due to deemed-universities and private universities. India has a complex affiliation system where a universities can have hundreds of public and private teaching colleges affiliated to it.

2. Lesser growth in student enrollment:
Although number of students enrolled in higher education doubled from nearly 8.4 million to 17 million in a decade, it grew a slower pace than number of colleges which grew 2.5 times in the same period, creating a paradoxical situation of excess capacity in a country where gross enrollment ratio is less than 20%.

3. Three-year degree and engineering:
Student continue to be sorted into two tiers--engineering and three-year degrees of Arts, Science and Commerce. Every sixth student in India is enrolled in engineering/technology program and more than 2/3rd of Indian students are enrolled in three-year undergraduate degrees.

Related readings:
Growth Statistics on Engineering and Management Institutions in India
Indian University Admissions: The Crisis of Confidence in Quality
Engineering Pipeline: Disproportionate and Disconnected

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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June 05, 2012

Foreign University Collaborations in India: Will Top-Ranked Institutions be Interested?

"A comprehensive legislation will be introduced in Parliament shortly to regulate entry of foreign universities and educational institutions in the country" according to Times of India. Can you guess the year in which this line was written? No, not 2010, its 2002. That's right it had been nearly a decade in history of Indian politics and the rhetoric has not changed. So, we should not be very disappointed if Foreign Universities Bill along with several other important bills have not yet seen the light of approval in last two years.

In this context, my first impression of the recent announcement by UGC to allow joint-degrees and twinning collaborations between Indian and foreign institutions was of continued skepticism which later changed to cautious optimism.

Elizabeth Redden of InsideHigherEd quoted me in a story covering the development. My reason for cautious optimism is that "given the dual requirements regarding accreditation and ranking many of the predatory institutions, who are interested in profits at the expense of quality and students, would be filtered out."

Most foreign institutions which are currently engaged with collaborations in India follow an approach similar to traffic rules in India--ignoring them is easier and faster, but not safer or better. So, foreign institutions which are truly interested in collaborations should be cautiously optimistic about this new announcement from the UGC--they should not ignore it but remain cautious to re-evaluate their engagement approach with India. 

Consider the requirement of NAAC which filters out many predatory institutions. For example, in Maharashtra--state with largest number of colleges--only 360 out of more than 4,500 colleges are NAAC accredited. This eliminates many private players who voluntarily would not pursue any quality assurance or NAAC accreditation.

Likewise, on foreign institution side, rankings may eliminate several institutions who are seeking to enter India for enrollment numbers (revenue/profit-seeking institutions) alone. Of course, the downside is that many other well-meaning institutions which do not figure in the rankings will also get filtered out. However, given the vulnerability of quality assurance in India, this filter is still relevant in current context.

One positive aspect of this announcement in contrast to Foreign university bill is that it does not create an unrealistic financial barrier like corpus fund of nearly $10 million, instead it creates a qualitative barrier in the form of accreditation or ranking.

Another unintended consequence is that NAAC accreditation will gain value and weightage among private players in the hope of building attractiveness for foreign collaborations. This would increase the number of institutions pursuing a quality assurance framework and hence it may help in raising the overall quality at the systemic level.

The challenge remains in implementation, as NAAC requirement creates a subset of institutions which are more likely to be publicly funded and hence less inclined in foreign engagements. Likewise, top-500 ranked foreign institutions will continue to feel jitters about lack of consistent, comprehensive and enforceable policy framework.

Although, this announcement may not address the issue of several unaccredited and unrecognized foreign collaborations already in operation, nor does it offers a framework for establishing a full-fledged branch campus, it does provide a low-intensity, high-relevance pathway for institutions who are truly interested in building collaborative academic engagements in India. It may offer more welcoming approach to "prestigious" and "prestige-seeking" segments of foreign institutions.

-Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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June 02, 2012

Deciphering Student Mobility and Recruitment Trends

International student mobility is a complex phenomena influenced by variables at multiple levels including country, institution and individual. In addition, financial well-being of many institutions is becoming increasingly dependent on international students. Given the complexity and centrality of international student mobility, there is an increasing interest in gaining a deeper understanding of reasons, rationales and trends.

Here are some recent resources and media mentions on student mobility:

  • The Guardian Online Chat

I participated in an online chat session hosted by the Guardian on the topic "What is the Future of International Student Mobility?"  The panel discussed "...the importance of international student mobility, the current provision and best practice from around the world, and what the future might hold for the development of global graduates." The comments from the chat are available at the bottom of the article. Click here to see the chat.

  • Boston College's International Higher Education Article

My article on "Mobility of Chinese and Indian Undergraduate Students" was published in the recent issue of IHE. I estimate that beginning in 2015, growth directions of the undergraduate market for China and India will experience a reversal in trends. This is the time when India would surface as a major growth country for undergraduate student recruitment, while China would start losing its growth momentum. However, in terms of absolute numbers of undergraduate enrollment, China will continue to outpace India. An estimate for reversal of the trend is based on four interrelated factor--demographic shifts, self-financed students, education reforms and campus concerns. Click here to read the article.

  • Interview with The PIE News

Sara Custer of the PIE News interviewed me on mobility trends, concept of "glocals" and recruitment. I mentioned that the approaches to recruit students are still set in pre-Internet era. Student decision-making processes have completely changed in the last five years. For example, the use of social media has picked up at a very fast pace – faster than the ability of institutions to adapt to their behaviour. A lot of time universities are ignoring what has changed, which puts them at a great disadvantage. Click here to read the interview.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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