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

April 28, 2013

Global mobility shift and segments of transnational education students

How are ‘global’ students different from ‘glocal’ students, and how is their mobility likely to take shape in future? In my recent article published in University World News, I argued that primary motivations and needs of students pursuing transnational education are different than globally mobile students.

Given below is the extract from the UWN article where I have adapted the student segmentation framework published in "Not All International Students Are the Same" by World Education Services.

"The research identified four different groups or segments of US-bound international students based on their academic preparedness and financial resources: Strivers, Strugglers, Explorers and Highfliers.

Strivers are primarily driven by career advancement. Despite being academically well prepared, they may lack the financial resources necessary to pursue education abroad without financial aid.

On the other hand, Explorers are driven by the experience of living abroad and they are ready to spend money on additional support services for study-abroad opportunities to overcome their relatively lower academic preparedness.

Highfliers are academically and financially well-endowed and driven by achievement to be the best, and they see studying abroad at a top institution as one of their goals. In contrast, Strugglers are not as sensitive to the quality of educational institutions. Instead they may be seeking education as a pathway to emigration.

Student segments in transnational education

With the growth of transnational education models, including validation of degrees, franchise programmes, online degrees, branch campuses and now MOOCs, these four groups of international students may be further characterised by two primary subgroups: ‘global’ and ‘glocal’.

‘Global’ students comprise Highfliers and Strugglers, who will not forgo the value of studying abroad, due to their strong desire for achievement or emigration, respectively. Thus, traditional destinations like the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia will continue to attract this segment. Alternative pathways to foreign education through transnational education will not be appealing to ‘global’ students.

In contrast, ‘glocal’ students comprise Explorers and Strivers, who have the aspiration to study abroad in traditional destinations like the US, the UK or Australia, but cannot due to their low academic or financial resources respectively. These students are open to other forms of engaging with transnational education.

‘Glocal’ students are different from ‘global’ ones, as they would like to earn the social prestige and career edge offered by foreign education without having to go very far from home.

Both ‘glocal’ and ‘global’ segments will grow in the medium term, but the ‘glocal’ one is expected to grow at a faster pace due to an insatiable appetite for foreign education, an expanding middle-class in emerging economies, and technological innovation.

On the other hand, the ‘global’ segment will grow at a slower pace due to a shift in institutional priority for self-funded students at undergraduate level and the increasing cost and competition for recruiting international students."

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April 17, 2013

Book: Cross-border Partnerships in Higher Education by Robin Sakamoto & David Chapman

Many higher education institutions with global ambitions are becoming increasingly interested, confused and cautious about strategies and approaches to cross-border engagements or transnational education. This is a result of a changing external environment of competition, cost consciousness and complexity. In this context, "Cross-border partnerships in Higher EducationStrategies and Issues" edited by Robin Sakamoto and David Chapman provides an "overview of the purposes and types of cross-border collaborations, an analysis of the benefits, and an examination of issues arising from these efforts."

Robin Sakamoto is Professor in the Faculty of Foreign Studies at Kyorin University in Tokyo, Japan. Her department was recently selected as one of 34 across the nation to receive funding for the Promotion of Global Human Resources by the Japanese government. She serves annually on the staff of the Japan Education Forum, which looks at multi-organizational collaboration in educational development and has worked in development assistance activities in Uganda and the Ukraine. She is currently engaged in a research project examining innovation in education in the Philippines. A former editor of the Journal of Intercultural Communication, she is now on the editorial board of AIEA.

David W. Chapman is Distinguished International Professor and Birkmaier Professor of Educational Leadership in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development at the University of Minnesota. His specialization is international development assistance. He has worked on development assistance activities in over 50 countries, assisting national governments and international organizations in the areas of educational policy and planning, program design and evaluation. His research has examined, among other things, cross-border collaborations in higher education, the role of higher education in national development, the role of information (and information systems) in policy formulation, and corruption in education.

Q. Rahul--One of the goals of the book is "to provide a critical look at the models being employed, the challenges encountered, and the unintended consequences of such [cross-border] collaboration, both positive and negative." What do you think one positive and one negative unintended consequence of growth in cross-border partnership?

A. Robin--As we look at cross-border collaboration, one of the most positive consequences of their growth is the freedom to expand beyond an exchange program format. Partnerships today can truly be innovative an the duration of the partnerships can be quite flexible. In our first chapter, we present a model of factors to be considered when establishing a cross-border partnership that is not instruction based and careful consideration of these factors will hopefully lead to a successful creative collaboration. But herein we also find the negative consequence of partnership growth. This freedom to go beyond the structure of credits rewarded for a set number of classroom hours makes cross-border partnerships whatever the participants want them to be. The inherent complexity of this creativity results in projects that may require changes in institutional policies or legal systems, all of which are occurring across different cultures. Thus it is paramount to keep a long-term perspective with constant monitoring and evaluation to reduce this complexity. Despite the challenges, successful creative partnerships are indeed propelling our institutions of higher learning to evolve and serve an ever more important role in contributing to the formation of social policy.

Q. Rahul--Please share how the increasing sophistication and cost-efficiency of technology-enabled learning models is going impact  the future of cross-border partnerships in higher education?

A. David--With the expansion of online and web-based instruction, borders make less difference. A substantial number of colleges and universities in nearly every country is experimenting with putting more of their courses online, often with the intention of attracting a wider circle of students and, consequently, tuition revenue. Students in Cambodia can take courses offered by the University of Minnesota, the University of Sydney, or Oxford. Some open universities in Asia already enroll well over 100,000 students each.

At the same time, online courses also pose challenges. It is sometimes hard for students to evaluate the legitimacy and quality of the foreign institutions offering online courses and programs. Governments prone to wanting to control the flow of ideas within their borders have greater trouble doing so. And, while online courses mean more choice and greater convenience for students, they have sometimes posed a headache for conventional universities as those universities have been forced to rethink their business model. Larger numbers of students choose online courses without committing to full degree programs. The introduction of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has some universities offering courses for free, only charging students if they want college credit for the class. Then, too, university administrators worry that online students may not develop the same sense of institutional identification and loyalty that will lead them to be donors to their universities after graduation. Online instruction is shaking up the way universities around the world do business.

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April 07, 2013

Differences in mobility of women international students: Case of China and India

While women student enrollment is more than men in many countries, proportion of women in international student enrollment still lags behind. According to IIE Open Doors, in 2011/12, women comprised of 44% of international student enrollment. At the same time, there are acute differences by source countries and level of education.

Given the limitation of publicly available data, I took a case of the University of Illinois, which hosted nearly 9,000 international students in 2011/12 and ranks second among top institutions in terms of international student enrollment.

As the chart shows, number of Indian women at undergraduate level is one-twelfth of Chinese (778 vs. 64) While number of Chinese women grew nearly twenty-times in five years (from 38 in fall 2005 to 778 in fall 2010), number of Indian women grew at an anemic pace from 43 to 64 students.

The situation is a bit more positive at the graduate level where number of Chinese women is five-times of number of Indian women. Proportion of international women students for India was 23% was compared to 48% for China. (An earlier analysis, provides comprehensive break-down of data on test-taking patterns of women GMAT test-takers from China and India).

There are several reasons contributing to this low mobility of Indian women in general and at specifically at undergraduate level in specific. This includes a conservative sociocultural environment which sees study abroad experience for young female students as a deterrent to future marriage prospects. In addition, financial barriers makes it difficult to fund undergraduate education.

Are universities doing enough to facilitate mobility of women students? Higher education institutions can not remain passive and need to do more to facilitate and support mobility of women students. This could be a very important contributor to advancement of women in different societies at all levels. Innovative scholarships and campaigns that help engage women should be built in institutional outreach strategies. 

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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