Global mobility shift and segments of transnational education students

How are ‘global’ students different from ‘glocal’ students, and how is their mobility likely to take shape in future? In my recent article published in University World News, I argued that primary motivations and needs of students pursuing transnational education are different than globally mobile students.

Given below is the extract from the UWN article where I have adapted the student segmentation framework published in “Not All International Students Are the Same” by World Education Services.

“The research identified four different groups or segments of US-bound international students based on their academic preparedness and financial resources: Strivers, Strugglers, Explorers and Highfliers.

Strivers are primarily driven by career advancement. Despite being academically well prepared, they may lack the financial resources necessary to pursue education abroad without financial aid.

On the other hand, Explorers are driven by the experience of living abroad and they are ready to spend money on additional support services for study-abroad opportunities to overcome their relatively lower academic preparedness.

Highfliers are academically and financially well-endowed and driven by achievement to be the best, and they see studying abroad at a top institution as one of their goals. In contrast, Strugglers are not as sensitive to the quality of educational institutions. Instead they may be seeking education as a pathway to emigration.

Student segments in transnational education

With the growth of transnational education models, including validation of degrees, franchise programmes, online degrees, branch campuses and now MOOCs, these four groups of international students may be further characterised by two primary subgroups: ‘global’ and ‘glocal’.

‘Global’ students comprise Highfliers and Strugglers, who will not forgo the value of studying abroad, due to their strong desire for achievement or emigration, respectively. Thus, traditional destinations like the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia will continue to attract this segment. Alternative pathways to foreign education through transnational education will not be appealing to ‘global’ students.

In contrast, ‘glocal’ students comprise Explorers and Strivers, who have the aspiration to study abroad in traditional destinations like the US, the UK or Australia, but cannot due to their low academic or financial resources respectively. These students are open to other forms of engaging with transnational education.

‘Glocal’ students are different from ‘global’ ones, as they would like to earn the social prestige and career edge offered by foreign education without having to go very far from home.

Both ‘glocal’ and ‘global’ segments will grow in the medium term, but the ‘glocal’ one is expected to grow at a faster pace due to an insatiable appetite for foreign education, an expanding middle-class in emerging economies, and technological innovation.

On the other hand, the ‘global’ segment will grow at a slower pace due to a shift in institutional priority for self-funded students at undergraduate level and the increasing cost and competition for recruiting international students.”

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