New destinations compete to attract international students in times of anti-immigrant rhetoric in UK and US

The number of globally mobile international students doubled to reach 4 million between the period 1999 and 2013. Every third globally mobile student is enrolled in an American or British institution of higher education. However, with the Brexit and American Presidential elections, 2016 is likely to affect the choices of many international students and prompting them to consider alternative destinations.

In my keynote presentation, “Three Waves of International Student Mobility: Implications for Recruitment and Partnership Strategies,” at International Universities Networking Conference - IUNC Eurasia 2017 in Moscow, Russia, I highlighted that institutions are facing an environment of hyper-competition, uncertainty and declining resources for attracting international students.

In contrast to anti-immigrant narratives in the UK and the US, Ireland extended the option of staying back to 24 months for graduates at postgraduate and doctorate level and recognizing the importance of gaining work experience as one of the key motivations for many international students aiming to earn a degree abroad.

Jerke Verschoor, Director, Nuffic Neso Russia, an office promoting study in Holland noted that “with the Ruble devaluation a couple of years back, the Euro became more expensive but relatively less so than the American dollar and the British pound. This is obviously in favor of EU countries, such as the Netherlands.” He added that the US elections and the Brexit might also have an effect on student mobility from Russia favorable for the Netherlands.

Bogdan Voronovskiy, General Director, Eastern European University Association noted that Russia serves as a bridge to Europe, emerging CIS countries and Asia. With China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, Russia will become even more important launching pad for international students.

Voronovskiy added that Russian institutions must do more to provide language and cultural support to international students. New programs in English that adapt to the new economic environment are critical in improving the attractiveness of Russia as a destination of choices for international students.

Valeriya Kotelnikova, Head of International Cooperation at the State University of Management in Moscow noted that “while most of our degree programs are in Russian we are constantly working towards growing enrollment in our academic exchanges and double degree programs to internationalize student experience.”

In sum, as the competition of international students intensifies, government policies must align with supporting institutions in attracting global talent. Likewise, institutions must pursue a more strategic approach to growing and diversifying enrollment in a competitive landscape.

-Based on article published in HuffPost
-Related webinar on international student mobility