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

January 19, 2015

Data-driven international student enrollment strategies

Interest in recruiting international students is growing among many institutions, for reasons ranging from reputational to financial. However, strategies translating intent into action are often devoid of research and insights. This lack of thorough examination before designing strategies often results in inefficient, expensive, and unsustainable enrollment strategies.
strategic enrollment with data and insights
Often, institutions underestimate the importance of research in facilitating the understanding of international student decision-making processes in informing enrollment strategies. The key is to know more about international students throughout their enrollment process—who they are, how they choose institution, and what are their experiences.
Some institutions make the mistake of extrapolating national or regional trends, which may or may not apply in the context of their campuses. In other cases, school allows anecdotal evidence and stereotypical views on international students’ needs and behavior to drive the strategies. Finally, the strategy sometimes boils down to “outsourcing” to a third-party commission-based recruiter.
Expanding international student populations on university campuses while maintaining the goals of cost, quality, and diversity is a complex optimization problem. It requires assessment of institutional goals, priorities, and capacities; investigation of student needs, profiles, and experiences; and, finally, mapping institutional and individual needs through a comprehensive strategy.
In sum, it is important to “zoom-out” to look into big picture megatrends, but then to “zoom-in” as well, to see the applicability and relevance of these trends at the institutional level.
Rahul Choudaha (author)
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January 17, 2015

New book offers strategies on increasing international student engagement

international student engagement practices and strategies
The issue of enhancing international student experiences and engaging them with the campus communities have been gaining more traction in US universities and colleges. A timely book entitled, "International Student Engagement Strategies for Creating Inclusive, Connected, and Purposeful Campus Environments" provides several examples and cases that can be adapted to diverse institutional contexts. - Rahul Choudaha 
Chris R. Glass takes a social psychological approach to researching issues in American higher education, with an interest in how the presence of others affects educational outcomes such as achievement, motivation, and social development. He researches international students, academic work, and publicly engaged scholarship. You can learn more about his research and teaching on his website.
1. RC- Why is the issue of improving international student engagement and experiences is becoming important? How does your book addresses this need?
CG- It’s important because not all international students are the same; they arrive on-campus with a range of academic preparedness and financial resources. Our research shows these differences matter. A key part of developing a sustainable international enrollment strategy is creating more inclusive, connected, and purposeful campus environments for international students once they arrive. So, the focus of the book is on what universities are doing right. It draws on evidence from a national dataset, the Global Perspective Inventory, to explore 5000+ international students’ engagement in curricular and co-curricular experiences, their sense of community, and the nature of their interactions with faculty. Throughout the book, we also weave in first-person narrative experiences of international students to illustrate the real-life consequences of more- and less- purposeful institutional policies, practices, and programs.

2. RC- What are some of the examples of effective institutional strategies for creating inclusive environment for international students?
CG- Universities are doing some really innovative work that’s worth sharing. The book highlights campus case examples that readers can adapt to their own campus context:
* the StudyUSA program at Elon University; * internationalization of the curriculum at Florida International University;
* proactive case management for student success at Indiana University – Bloomington;
* the International House (I-House) at Northern Arizona University;
* the International Student Advisory Board at Old Dominion University;
* campus and community engagement initiatives at Valencia College; and
* faculty development efforts at Valparaiso University.

The institutions highlighted in this book are just a handful of a larger number of institutions that are doing excellent work.

We believe each institution has to develop its own approach to international student engagement. So, the book emphasizes reinforcing an institution’s existing strengths and capacities in the development of strategies that will enable it to create a more inclusive campus climate. It focuses on strategies to strengthen active collaboration with all departments and offices across the campus, with the larger community, and most important, with the international student community itself.

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January 11, 2015

From Quick-fix to Sustainable International Student Enrollment Strategies

What can Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon teach higher education leaders about international enrollment sustainable enrollment? A recent ranking by the Harvard Business Review identified Bezos as the Best-Performing CEO in the World based on long-term results. Bezos demonstrated his passion in a 1997 letter to Amazon shareholders when the company went public. “Because of our emphasis on the long term, we may make decisions and weigh trade-offs differently than some companies,” Bezos wrote.

The recession has fuelled short-termism among higher education institutions in terms of their student enrollment goals. The fiscal challenges, competitive landscape and complex markets, have increased the pressure to on colleges and universities to adopt quick fixes. These short-sighted strategies not only resulted in poor experiences for international students, as well as financial and reputational risks for the institutions involved.

In order to successfully recruit and retain international students, higher education institutions must move toward sustainable enrollment strategies that seek to maximize long-term value. These are the four questions every institution needs to ask itself in order to move from quick-fix international enrollment strategies to sustainable ones.

1. Are you focused on quantity at the expense of quality?
2. Are you reacting instead of proactively planning?
3. Are your efforts integrated with those of other campus stakeholders?
4. Are your decisions based on evidence?
International student enrolment is a complex, costly and competitive endeavor. It can become even more challenging when ill-informed, short-term and quick-fix approaches are used. In order to create successful, sustainable strategies, institutional leaders must work towards long-term solutions.

Is your institution making the right trade-offs as Bezos made to create sustainable, long-term international enrollment strategies?

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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January 02, 2015

Efficient Design and Delivery of Higher Education Service

Patrick Harker, president of the University of Delaware was interviewed based on his commentary "Making Sense of Higher Education’s Future: An Economics and Operations Perspective" published in Service Science. (On a side note, Service Science is an interdisciplinary field that aims at studying and improving service systems. My dissertation focused on developing a curriculum for a master's program in engineering and management. Service Science is supported by IBM.)
Harkin borrows from the principles of operations management and characteristics of services to argue for a change in the design and delivery of education. From operations management, we know that design of the service or product drives its performance, as it is influences the cost structures and delivery constraints. "Design determines how competitive it is in the marketplace. A great design delivers efficient value to customers or clients."

efficiency of higher education services and cost reduction

Harkin argues that one of the limitations of design of education services is that we "we assume teaching is the same as learning" and with the increasing cost pressures and the emergence of online alternatives, this assumption is being called into question. "Too much variety in learning modalities disrupts our highly optimized, highly engineered teaching system."
The solution to squeeze cost out of this design is by changing the delivery model. Harkin asserts that "To better deliver our value proposition—to design a university that truly creates lifelong learners—will require a major change in both pedagogical concept and method. Instead of engineering teaching-efficient factories, we need to engineer learning-efficient ones."
We know from the nature of services that "customers/clients of the service are actively involved in its production." Thus, "focusing the design of such service delivery processes on making the customer highly efficient is one of the keys to success. Translated to the university environment, this means a greater emphasis on learning, as opposed to teaching."
What student learns (curriculum) and how it is delivered is central to improving the learning processes and achieving the economies of scale. "The use of MOOCs or other online and interactive learning platforms seems worthy of consideration to deliver the basic courses in our curricula, which then allows us to free up faculty time to teach the advanced seminars, supervise undergraduate research projects, and provide the much-needed coaching and mentoring for our students."
I have previously written that the confluence of cost and funding pressures, technology-enabled learning innovations and new paradigms of quality and teaching, will further force universities to redefine their value. This will become a theme of increasing conversation among university leaders who are developing or assessing their internationalization strategies. More questions will be raised about making strategic choices between high cost, infrastructure heavy branch campuses vs. flexible, innovative and low cost engagement strategies through technology/online learning.
Dr. Rahul Choudaha (Author)
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