Interview with The PIE News on trends and insights on global higher education

Here is an edited excerpt from my full interview with Claudia Civinini published in The PIE News on role of data and insights in internationalization strategies, impact of megatrends on global higher higher, and competitiveness of destinations for international students in the Third Wave.

The PIE: Data is unescapable in 2018, but how is it used to devise internationalisation strategies?

RC: There is a lot of data available now, given the environment that we are in. We are data rich and insight poor, and this happens sometimes because we are not interpreting the data correctly, we are potentially not questioning the data, not explaining the context in which the data must be used. I would say the biggest thing to focus is all the data indicators which can assess the positioning of the institution from the students’ point of view.

The PIE: The CGHE research about Australia overtaking the UK has been mentioned several times at AIEC. Looking at the main destination countries, how do you think global dynamics will shift in the near future?

RC: One thing we are underestimating is the power of the UK as a destination. Not only as a country, but as an ecosystem of high-quality institutions. Despite the political environment, the overall strength is solid. It’s a bit of a far-fetched idea that this will dilute so quickly. I would say that in terms of the capacity, of where the numbers can grow, the reality is that there are limited source countries that can still drive the amount of growth which Australia would need to surpass the number of students in the UK.

The PIE: How about the US and Canada?

RC: I will refer to a piece I wrote about the three waves of international student mobility. After 9/11, a lot of traffic got diverted to the UK and Australia – that was the first wave. In the second, during the [post-2008 crash] global recession, the US moved up in the global recruitment race, because institutions became very proactive with their outreach, and UK and Australia lost some of the market share. Canada instead started picking up. But in this current wave, with the political scenario and the nationalistic overtones, the momentum is building for the alternative destinations, beyond English-speaking destinations.

The PIE: At the start of this year you presented in a webinar about the megatrends that will shape higher education. Which of these do you think will be the most powerful for the international education industry?

RC: In the short term, the much talked-about nationalistic forces are still the overpowering trend. But I would not qualify that as a megatrend. On a five-to-ten-year term, demographic forces are expected to transform higher education. High-income countries are facing a population decline while low to middle-income countries are continuing to see population boom. This is really going to change the access and affordability equation in higher education its potential for internationalization. Globally ambitious universities and colleges must reassess how they deliver their programs, to whom, and at what price.