Half of all international students move to five English-speaking countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Over 15% of students in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are international, and for international doctoral candidates, the share is over 30%. However, recent developments could affect the numbers these countries attract. The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, coupled with student visa restrictions and rising health insurance costs, may diminish the United Kingdom’s attractiveness as a destination. Recent uncertainty over the visa regime in the United States may explain increased international enrolment in Canada. (Project Atlas, 2017).
More interestedly, The shares of international students in France and Germany have grown to 8% and 6%, respectively, in part because they increasingly offer postgraduate programmes in English. Other countries have recently entered the market, including China with 10% enrolment in 2017 and the Russian Federation with 6% (Project Atlas, 2017).
Three out of the five largest sending countries in 2016 were in Asia: China, India and the Republic of Korea accounted for 25% of all outbound mobility. While many students travelled to Western countries, 36% of the 1.3 million international students originating in Eastern
Global competition for international students are getting harder. In several Asian countries with declining birth rates and ageing populations, the tertiary education sector is turning to international students to keep institutions open. Japan is a great example where it aims to mitigate low domestic enrolment by attracting international students from within Asia and farther afield through initiatives such as courses and programmes taught in English. In 2010–2014, the number of international students in the Republic of Korea stagnated at around 85,000. In 2015, it set a goal of 200,000 international students by 2023, or 5% of all places. Scholarships, regulations allowing universities to open international departments or programmes, expansion of English instruction, and increased post-graduation employment opportunities support the goal. In 2017, the number of international students increased to 124,000 (ICEF Monitor, 2018).
In recent years, with the scale of knowledge-based and innovation-driven economies increasing worldwide, some countries try not only to bolster international students’ enrolment but also to retain them in their labour markets. In China, which hosted 443,000 international students in 2015/16, programmes in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen create opportunities for international students in high-tech and e-commerce courses to transition easily into the workforce to address local skills gaps (Sharma, 2017). Germany offers degree programmes with minimal fees and graduate programmes taught in English, and gives its non-EU graduates 18 months to find employment. It reached its enrolment goal – 350,000 by 2020 – three years early.
Countries may reform their education systems and qualification frameworks to conform with those of other countries or regions, which may facilitate mutual recognition in the long term. India is working with Germany to reform the technical and vocational education and training system, modelling curricula and training on the German approach (Desiderio and Hooper, 2015). The Republic of Moldova is introducing a national qualification framework modelled on the European Qualifications Framework (Republic of Moldova Government, 2017).
The globe landscape is changing fast and risks associate to how institutions do business has also to become more professional and thoughtful. Costs to international operations can scale up very quickly and strategies have to be rethink, redesigned many times as soon as becomes unsustainable.
I often see institutions with little or no idea on dealing with new markets and treating regions with same strategies. So, a good initial research into the market before entering and a maintenance to understand key changes particular on how motivation to buy certain programmes and destinations may save your organisation time, money and frustration.
Data: Unesco 2019