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

February 24, 2013

Data comparing number of GRE and GMAT test-takers

GRE released data on number of test-takers for the first time. GMAC had been sharing data and profile trends on GMAT test takers for several years. I have compared the two test-taker volume for 25 countries.

Most of the developing countries outside the US have a pattern of higher number of GRE test-takers as compared to GMAT (yellow cells in the table). These countries have lesser number of GMAT test-takers as business education expects students to be self-funded as schools offers very limited to no financial support, except for doctoral programs. Saudi Arabia is an exception where fully-funded scholarship program has broadened the fields of study options for students.

In contrast, countries where students have higher capacity to pay for their own education and have less dependency on financial aid has larger number of GMAT test-takers. This includes China where number of GMAT test takers is almost double than GRE test-takers. Here is a previous analysis comparing GMAT test takers from China and India.

Of course, GRE test is used for much larger number of fields including business, however, GMAT is used for business programs only. However, this comparison would aid institutions to prioritize and compare markets.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha (copyright)
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February 14, 2013

Global market in transnational education by Nigel Healey

Transnational education in its various forms had been growing both in quantity and qualitative complexity. I came across Prof. Healey's informative slides on TNE from QS-APPLE conference and asked him to narrate the key conclusions. I especially found slide #10/11 about "Oxford Brookes effect" quite interesting. This is primarily an effect of Oxford Brookes' partnership with ACCA offered in several countries including Pakistan and Sri Lanka. A report by the 1994 Group explains that the "Data on ‘students studying wholly outside the UK’ is skewed by large numbers studying at Oxford Brooks. Oxford Brookes started returning data in 2008/09 for students studying for a BSc in Applied Accounting in partnership with ACCA. This BSc is a partnerships with ACCA where students on the ACCA programme receive a BSc qualifi cation from Oxford Brookes if they submit a satisfactory “Research and Analysis Project” to Oxford Brookes." (p.14).

Nigel Healey
Nottingham Trent University, UK

Professor Nigel Healey is Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) and Head of the College of Business, Law and Social Sciences at Nottingham Trent University. He has previously held positions as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International) and Dean of the College of Business and Economics at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand), Dean of Manchester Metropolitan University Business School and Jean Monnet
Chair of European Economic Studies at the University of Leicester. His current research focuses on the internationalisation of higher education, with particular reference to the Asia-Pacific region, and developments in higher education policy nationally and internationally.

Higher education has become a major global industry. The most striking dimension of this internationalisation has been the rise in the number of students studying at universities outside their own country. The equally rapid increase in the number of students studying for a foreign degree without leaving their home country has,
however, attracted less attention. UNESCO defines this form of transnational education (TNE) as ‘all types of higher education study programmes, sets of study courses, or educational services (including those of distance education) in which the learners are located in a country different from the one where the awarding institution is based’. For some countries, notably the UK, there are now more foreign students
studying for awards offshore than studying on-campus in the UK.

This presentation provides an overview of the types of TNE activity and discusses the broad trends and developments in this rapidly evolving, and largely unregulated, international market. It concludes that the data for TNE are still not reliable and that it is difficult to make meaningful comparisons about the growth of TNE relative to the more conventional export education.

It finds that THE has been mainly focused on Asia, driven by high economic growth, rapid population growth (in 18-22 year old range) and the lack of capacity and quality in domestic higher education sector. Going forward, it seems likely that TNE will experience some slowdown, as demographics reduce demand, the capacity and quality of Asian universities improves and tougher host quality assurance regimes
negatively impact Western providers.

There is already evidence that the traditional principal-agent (university-foreign private college) model may have limited life span in Asia and that some universities are beginning to scale back this form of TNE. It is probable that franchise activity may switch to other emerging markets in Africa and Latin America, especially in some of the newly emerging hubs where government policy seeks to attract foreign providers, notably Dubai and Qatar. Continued TNE in Asia looks likely to be move towards international branch campuses rather than franchising, but this may be a very limited market.
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February 09, 2013

H1 Visa: Facilitating education and employment pathways for economic development

"If anything, we have too many high-tech workers: more than nine million people have degrees in a science, technology, engineering or math field, but only about three million have a job in one", opines Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute in The New York Times.

Mr. Eisenbrey argues against the value of expanding the H1-B temporary visa program in STEM fields and concludes "Bringing over more — there are already 500,000 workers on H-1B visas — would obviously darken job prospects for America’s struggling young scientists and engineers. But it would also hurt our efforts to produce more: if the message to American students is, 'Don’t bother working hard for a high-tech degree, because we can import someone to do the job for less,' we could do significant long-term damage to the high-tech educational system we value so dearly."

However, Mr. Eisenbrey's opinion misses important facts related to innovation and economic development that far outweigh the perceived costs. Here are two related reports providing several facts about the demand and usage of H1-B especially related to STEM fields:

- The Search for Skills: Demand for H-1B Immigrant Workers in U.S. Metropolitan Areas by the Brookings Institute
- Help Wanted: The Role of Foreign Workers in the Innovation Economy by Partnership for a New American Economy, Information Technology Industry Council and U.S. Chamber of Commerce

According to the Brookings Institute report, "In 92 of the 106 high demand metropolitan areas, STEM occupations accounted for more than half of all requests. Computer occupations were the most highly requested occupation group in all but 11 metros of the 106 high-demand metros, where engineering, healthcare practitioners, and postsecondary teachers were more requested." This indicates that demand for H1-B visas had been majorly coming from high-tech industries.

The H1-B visa program is an important policy tool which continues to make U.S. a very attractive destination for international students. This is partly because 2005 onwards, U.S. had allowed for 20,000 additional visas for international students graduating with advanced degree from U.S. universities. This also connects with another enabling policy of 17 months OPT extension for STEM graduates.

I also mapped GDP of top 10 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) along with the demand for H1-B visas in top 10 MSAs. As the table indicates, eight of the top-10 MSAs by GDP overlap with H1-B demand, confirming an intuitive correlation between economic activity and demand for skills. To sum up, an efficient and swift process of attracting skilled immigrants is integral to the economic vitality in the U.S. and H1-visa had been facilitating this need.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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February 02, 2013

How 17-month STEM OPT extension influenced international student enrollment trends?

USCIS defines Optional Practical Training (OPT) as temporary employment that is directly related to major area of study of international students on F-1 visa. It is a valuable experiential opportunity for 12 months at each education level--bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral. Beginning April 2008, USCIS took a progressive step by allowing students enrolled in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related fields to get additional 17 months of OPT. This not only helped U.S. become more attractive for international students seeking to gain some work experience but more importantly it became a talent attraction and retention tool. Employers also found to be of value as they can have a longer working relationship before deciding on H-1 visa sponsorship.

Given that OPT extension is applicable to STEM related fields, it influenced some countries more than the others. For example, over 70% of Indian students are enrolled in STEM related fields (Engineering, Math, Computer Science or Physical/Life Sciences). Likewise, nearly half of all Nepalese students and 44% of Turkish students are enrolled in STEM related fields. This is one explanatory factor for high growth is OPT enrollment for Indian, Nepalese and Turkish students.

Recent momentum about the immigration reform and allocation of green card to STEM graduates is going to make the U.S. even more attractive for international students and provides logical pathways for retaining talent. Here is an excellent report on the state of STEM education in the U.S.

(copyright) Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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