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

February 23, 2014

The role of online learning and glocal students in shaping university internationalization strategies

International branch campuses receive lot of media attention. Some of the recent endeavors from big brands like NYU Shanghai and Yale-NUS College, gives a perception that many more are building international branch campuses, however, they form a very small proportion of various models of engagement for university internationalization.

Consider the case of the UK, which have been promoting transnational education as a part of the national strategy, has less than 3% of all its TNE activity in branch campuses. Only ~17,500 of  ~600,000 students enrolled in an "overseas campus of a UK HEI." In addition, one out of five overseas students is studying for a UK degree through distance learning programs (Open University is the largest). This is also the learning model which is gaining a lot of buzz with technological innovation, MOOCS and competency-based learning.

In a recent presentation at the AIEA conference, the panel shared the opportunities and challenges presented by the use of technology in shaping and scaling global engagement strategies. I highlighted the example of University of Pennsylvania, which has already built integrated technology-enabled "open learning" as its global engagement strategy.

In October 2012, I argued that 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. While branch campuses are infrastructure-intensive efforts with high financial and reputational risk, online learning offers a low-cost, flexible alternative for ‘glocal’ students to potentially earn a foreign credential (glocal students aspire to earn an international education/experience without having to leave their home/region). 

A recent article from the Economist supports the argument and states that "The rise of online instruction will upend the economics of higher education." It notes that the cost of university is driven by two big factors. First, the need for physical proximity (infrastructure) and so a university’s marginal cost of production is high and second, it is hard to raise productivity due to labor-intensity (teaching).

This is where online education changes the economic equation as the "most salient feature of the online course is its rock-bottom marginal cost: teaching additional students is virtually free." If you add to this low or no cost, a reputed a university brand and a star faculty, you have a strong value proposition for a segment of students, who will be willing to substitute a campus-based experience from a lesser known institution with online experience.

In sum, higher education institutions need to assess, prepare and adapt their global engagement strategies to the new opportunities presented by the two megatrends--rise of technology-based learning innovation and expanding segment of glocal students. 

What is your strategy of engaging technology and glocal students in internationalization--ignore, collaborate or compete?

Related posts:

Dr. Rahul Choudaha (copyright)
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February 14, 2014

Data indicates potential decline in Chinese graduate student enrollment in Fall'2014

Number of Chinese students applying to graduate schools in the US are likely to decrease for the fall'2014 admissions cycle. In contrast, number of Indian students in graduate programs are expected to increase, as I mentioned in a recent story from the Chronicle of Higher Ed that the recent "increase in GRE-taking in India could be the result of 'pent-up demand'."

A press release by GRE indicates that the volume of GRE test-takers from India increased by more than 70 percent to cross 90,000 (please note, this is test-taker volume by location of test-taker. Previous analysis shows test-taker volume by country of citizenship). However, the press release is silent on China numbers, which had been the growth story for last few years, indicating a decline in GRE test-takers in China, as decline in numbers is not a "story".

In addition, the press release states that GRE volumes in Asia were up more than 35%. This means there were other markets that did not match up with the same growth as India and pulled down the overall growth for Asia and that declining market is very likely to be China.

GMAC data also indicates decline in Chinese test-takers from 58,196 in 2011-12 to 53,005 in 2012–13, a decline of 9%. This decline is even a stronger indicator of prospective decline of enrollment of Chinese students, as larger proportion of Chinese students enroll in business programs and hence taking GMAT. In contrast, majority of Indian students go for engineering/computer science related programs and hence having stronger predictive power with GRE trends.

Contrasting trend of decline in interest for graduate programs among Chinese students and increase in interest from Indian students is also corroborated by CGS data on applications to US graduate schools. In 2013, number of applications from China declined by 5% as compared to increase by 20% from India.

To sum up, all data points from GRE, CGS and GMAC, indicate a declining interest for the US graduate programs from Chinese students. In contrast, India is set to grow. These trends will become more apparent with the upcoming CGS report on applications to US graduate schools in April 2014.

Related reading:
GRE data on China and India: trends and implications for international graduate admissions pipeline
Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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February 08, 2014

International education conference presentations: yes, it's busy and exciting!

2014 is off to a busy start, especially with the spring conference season. I begin with a presentation on Internationalization of Higher Education on February 14th at SOCHE ED (Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education) in Dayton, OH.

On February 16th, I participate in a panel discussion at Harvard University on the topic of The Indian Higher Education System and its Challenges: Role of Online Learning and other Solutions.

Then, I will be chairing two sessions at AIEA (Association of International Education Administrators) Conference in Washington, DC:
Wednesday, February 19, 11:00 am- 12:15 pm
Scaling and Shaping Global Engagement Strategies in an Era of Technology
Co-presenters:
-Tim Gore is Director, Global Networks and Communities for the University of London International Programmes
-Steve Ernst is Vice President for Innovation and Strategy at Excelsior College
Monday, February 17, 4:45 pm- 6:00 pm
Strategic Choices for Developing and Sustaining Institutional Partnerships   
Co-presenters:
-Simon Evans, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) at the University of Melbourne
-Stephen C. Dunnett, Vice Provost for International Education at the University at Buffalo

Finally, I will be presenting on the Landscape of Higher Education in Russia and Ukraine at the University Professional & Continuing Education Association International Briefing (UPCEA) in Washington, DC on February 20th.

In March, I will be in Seoul to chair the session on Global Engagement Strategies: What Works, What Doesn’t? at Asia-Pacific Association for International Education (APAIE) conference with following co-presenters:
-Doris Sohmen-Pao, Executive Vice-President (Administration), Yale Singapore College
-Robert Coelen, Vice-President International at Stenden University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands
-Stephen C. Dunnett, Vice Provost for International Education at the University at Buffalo

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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