In Search of Self-financed International Students

The number of High New Worth Individuals (HNWIs) have increased by 21% and 12% for India and China respectively, according to 2011 World Wealth Report. India added 26,000 new HNWIs and China added 58,000 in one year. HNWIs are defined as those having investable assets of US$1 million or more, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables, and consumer durables.

This expansion of wealthy class means number of self-financed international students may also grow by a healthy double digits. In times of severe budget cuts, this may present a very lucrative opportunity for many public institutions. The expansion of HNWIs is just one indicator of increase of very wealthy, however, self-financed international students may come from the immediate next segment under HNWI, which is even bigger in size.

Both China and India have a hyper-competitive environment to gain admissions into good quality institutions and quality of institutions falls precipitously beyond few top institutions. Many of the kids of HNWIs are not seeking a foreign degree for jobs rather they are seeking it for experience of studying abroad and social prestige associated with it.

Traditionally, India and China had been sending majority of its students at the graduate level where expectations for financial aid are high. With the budget cuts, many institutions are finding it tough to provide financial support. However, children of HNWIs can afford education and hence they are more likely to enroll at undergrad programs which in turn provides a longer revenue flow of four years as compared to one-two years at master’s level.

However, the challenge remains in terms of finding these self-financed students. I believe the most effective strategy is to engage universities’ current students and alumni through social media. Current students and alum are more likely to have a network which is similar to them in terms of social, cultural and economic background. Thus, creating a community where current students/alum can invite their friends and engage them through social media is the most credible and cost-effective channel. Here is an interesting reading on 10 Ways Universities Are Engaging Alumni Using Social Media and example of The Johns Hopkins.


Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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