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
Copyright DrEducation.com

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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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