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

December 22, 2016

Indian higher education institutions aspire to recruit more international students

Here is an excerpt from my article published in The Economic Times based on a panel presentation at 2016 FICCI Higher Education Summit.

India is the second largest source of internationally mobile students around the world. According to the UNESCO data, in 2015, nearly 234,000 Indian students were enrolled in universities and colleges abroad. In contrast, Indian universities and colleges hosted nearly 39,000 degree-seeking international students.

The Government of India is keen on enhancing the attractiveness of India as a destination for international students. At the same time, some Indian institutions are keen on making use of the 15% additional seats available to them for enrolling foreign students.

However, India faces increasing competition as many other destinations have already been active in creating government policies and institutional capacities for attracting global talent. For example, in 2015, Malaysia and China hosted more than 60,000 and 123,000 degree-seeking international students, respectively.

The recent FICCI Higher Education Summit convened institutional leaders, policy makers, and education experts to deliberate on opportunities for and challenges in attracting foreign students to India.

I participated in one of the panels at the Summit and presented four primary strategic approaches that can help Indian institutions attract more international students.
  • Enhancing country image 
  • Bridging information gaps 
  • Understanding international student segments
  • Investing in international student experience 
In sum, some Indian institutions have the right blend of ambition and potential to attract international students. However, realizing the goals will require proactive and informed strategies which are designed to support student success.

Click to read the full article.

-Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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December 19, 2016

Demonetization of Indian currency and its impact on mobility and enrollment of Indian students in 2017

What will be the impact of demonetization of Indian currency on Indian students planning to study abroad in 2017? Here is an excerpt of the article published in Forbes by Rahul Choudaha and Di Hu. 
What is the impact of demonetization and Trump on Indian students studying abroad
On November 8, the Prime Minster of Indian announced a demonetization policy which made 86% of the currency in circulation invalid as a legal tender. With the application deadlines for most institutions ranging from November to February, the timing of demonetization could not have been worse as many were still making sense of the implications of the recent Presidential elections.

Student visa processes require showing proof of availability of funds for the first year of tuition and living expenses. Given that total annual expenses can range from US$ 30,000 to US$ 70,000, many Indian students were using short-term borrowing for visa approvals and education abroad.

Clearly, in this context demonetization is likely to affect the willingness and ability of Indian students to study abroad, however, the impact will differ by the level of education.
Traditional segment of master’s students: Seeking career advancement 
Nearly 80% of all Indian students in the U.S. enroll at the master’s level. This is the traditional segment of Indian students who seek to minimize the cost of education and maximize the potential for job and career advancement opportunities.

Most of the Indian masters’ students fund their education through loans. Demonetization is going to make it tougher arranging for short-term funds. This in turn can result in visa denials and hence, lesser number of students finally showing up on the campuses.
Emerging segment of undergraduate students: Seeking global experiences 
Only 10% of all Indian students abroad are enrolled at bachelors’ degree level. A previous analysis projected the trend of the growth of Indian undergraduate students. The emergence of Indian undergraduate students can be traced back to the changes in the economy have transformed the structure of society.

Children of professionals working in new-age industries like IT, financial services and telecommunications who started their career in 1990's are now college ready. Given that these children come from families with substantial financial resources, their ability to fund their education abroad would not be affected by the demonetization.

While the full impact of demonetization is yet to be seen, many Indian students would find it challenging to arrange for finances and visas. It is especially going to affect enrollments for 2017 at the masters’ level. Institutions making proactive efforts in understanding the diversity and complexity of the Indian student market will gain in maximizing from these shifting trends.
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December 02, 2016

Commentary and media mentions on Trump and international education

American universities and colleges face many uncertainties under Trump’ Presidency including the future of the internationalization of higher education. Will universities and colleges become more globally engaged? Will universities and colleges be successful in attracting more international students? Will American students get resources and support to engage in more education abroad experiences?


I have published two commentary pieces and my perspectives have been mentioned in 20 publications including The New York Times, Inside Higher Ed, and Slate.

In sum, the sociopolitical environment in the countries that are the leading destinations for international students has dramatically changed. In this turbulent environment, upholding the values of international education and student mobility is more important than ever.
Over the next four years, international educators must remain optimistic and reaffirm their commitment to building bridges that advance global engagement and mutual understanding.
One of the core values of international education is about celebrating diversity and learning from differences. Trump’s viewpoints are insular and not in line with the values of international education. 
Career advancement is one of the prime motivations for international students to study in the U.S. Trump’s anti-immigrant stance may create stricter visa and immigration policies which may make it even more difficult for students to come to the U.S. and find internship and job opportunities. 
- Rahul Choudaha, PhD

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