KIC UnivAssist supports higher education institutions and high school counselors worldwide through unique programs that are geared toward developing and implementing international engagement.
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Why would you go to the Middle East?
Given the scope of recent headlines and political unrest, many international recruiters may be considering skipping the Middle East. However, this does present a multitude of opportunities for the universities that choose to invest in the region.
Several years ago, I was asked by a college vice president, “Why go to the Middle East?” This institution had a limited budget to grow new markets but understood the benefit and need to diversify into the Middle East. This institution did not have any experience or history within this region. My response was, “to go where money doesn’t matter.” This was not the response the vice president was expecting, but it clearly struck a cord and certainly drove the conversation further.
For many families, the affordability factor of higher education in the United States is a major consideration in determining where their children will go to study. In several cases, students from the Middle East have access to government-sponsored programs that will cover all, or most of their education and related costs. Therefore, price point has not been the chief deterrent. Instead, all too often it’s the brand, or perceived status of the institution. Institutions that are known in the region have a much better chance of attracting, engaging, and enrolling students.
The most challenging student to recruit in a new market is the first student. A student who finds both academic and personal success at an institution will be the best advocate for your institution. Culturally, you will find that this student’s positive experience will result in added visibility, increased applications and higher enrollments. First from brothers and sisters, and then cousins, and then other extended members of the family, and beyond.
The Saudi Arabian King Abuallah Scholarship Program (KASP) is perhaps the best known of these sponsor programs. KASP’s main goal is to equip students with knowledge and skills needed to be future world leaders. Some of the other goals of the program are to foster patriotic commitment, cultural exchange, mutual understanding and intellectual development. The impact of KASP cannot be understated, as its economic impact in 2015 was $1.7 billion in the U.S. economy.
In 2011, Saudi Arabia sent 22,704 students to study in the United States. This number rose to 59,945 in 2015. Recently, the future of the KASP program has been in question. There have been announcements that indicate there will be a sharp decrease in the number of students to be funded, and only schools deemed in the top 200 will be approved for new degree-seeking students. Students currently in the United States appear to be grandfathered in, however the future for students who are in the U.S. for intensive English training and who may not receive offers of admission from the “top schools” remains in question.
Kuwait also has a government-sponsored program that is smaller in scope, but does allow for its students to study at approved schools in the United States. In 2011, Kuwait sent 2,998 students to the United States. This number grew to an all-time high in 2015 with a total of 9,034 students.
For colleges and universities looking to break into these markets and hoping to be included on some of these approved “lists,” it can be a confusing and ambiguous process. Kuwait does have information regarding the guidelines for inclusion on their approved list (check kuwaitculture.com).
A great way to start the process of getting your institution to be recognized and added onto the approved list of schools is by showing a commitment to the region. Grow a track record of investing in the region by face-to-face travel, outreach to promote cultural understanding and meetings in Washington D.C. with educational leaders and embassy officials. This sounds like an easy undertaking and in some cases it can be, however the process can take a long time to become approved. It’s also important to know many of the sponsored student programs are designed to include only those majors that are deemed vital to the future growth of the issuing country’s economy. Many STEM fields are included on these approved lists, but not exclusively. Professional accreditation also plays a significant role in determining which schools and majors are to be funded.
It is also very important to understand the demographics on the ground in the Middle Eastern countries. Many students whom you would encounter there will likely be members of various expat communities. These students have family roots in the Middle Eastern countries for generations. In most cases they would not be eligible for inclusion in the government sponsorship programs, but based on their families situation, they may be a perfect fit for U.S. institutions.
I have found traveling around the world to be very enriching and educational. I have learned about many cultures and answers to many of life’s questions. The question isn’t “why go to the Middle East?” … it’s “why not go?”
What Makes Us Different is How We Connect: NAFSA Session Preview
Like most of you, each year I look forward to the process of preparing a recruitment plan; and over the past decade, I have had the opportunity to travel with many of the international admissions and recruitment staff from colleges and universities across the country.
We reach out globally to strengthen awareness of our unique institutions, and potential applicants respond by reaching out to us electronically. But many of us never stop to think about how easy is it for the student to give information. Or, what we internally as a team do with this information? For example, after the initial contact, is follow-up personalized, whether delivered by digital channels or through other methods? Does our communication sincerely answer prospective students’ questions, or are we just sending generic emails? With competition to attract and enroll international students at an all time high, how quick and effective is your institution’s response to international inquiries?
At KIC UnivAssist, we set out to learn more about how U.S. universities respond to inquiries. Kristina Wong Davis (University of California-San Diego), Ronn Beck (Salve Regina University), and I will be discussing our results during the session titled “Insights into Effective Institutional Responsiveness of Prospective International Student Inquiries” at the 2016 NAFSA Conference. Previewing our findings: 23% reacted with non-reply, and 38% asked for personal information – then didn’t use it.
Our challenge is not in fact unique. Like most of us involved in recruitment and admissions, Eddy Cue also thinks a lot about engaging and connecting with people far away. Except unlike us, Cue is a senior vice president at Apple where he oversees Apple Music (for those of you who know me well, you know that in addition to being passionate about student recruitment, one of my hobbies is music).
When Cue was asked recently in an interview about the challenges Apple faces competing with more established music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora or Tidal, his response was "yes, I can play any song,” and that might be the same from service to service, but what makes us different is the "connection with the user and music." Of course, as any music lover (or international student recruitment professional) knows, it’s crucial to be adept at reading your audience and reacting on the fly with their selection.
As spring edges toward travel season, this is a lesson we should all revisit before departing for tours/trips overseas. Do our inquiry protocols for international prospective applicants (and their families) really help us connect and engage?
And don’t forget to bring along a good playlist.
Supporting school-based counselors in new (and unexpected) places
With predictions of upwards of 10,000 international high schools by 2020, colleges are grappling with the question of how to best connect with, and support, an ever-increasing and geographically-distributed number of school-based college counselors.
Knowing that Eddie West, Director of International Initiatives at the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) has been likewise thinking about the growing population of international students on non-immigrant student (F-1) visas, and related needs of U.S.-based counselors, the 2016 International ACAC Conference at Rutgers University seemed like a great opportunity to bring more people into this important discussion.
Our thesis was simple, really: The future of school-based college counseling looks a lot brighter if current admissions & international school professionals focus on building communities that include emerging schools (in new and unexpected places) and those tasked with providing school-based college counseling, often teachers and administrators.
Amazingly enough, Eddie and I were joined in this rather ambitious panel by some remarkably thoughtful people: Founder of JCT4Education and architect of the inaugural IACAC Regional Institute, Juan Camilo Tomayo; expert on college counseling in the international school context and founder of Greymatter Hall Consulting, Dan Grayson; and high school counselor at Kents Hill School and current Chair of the NACAC International Advisory Committee, Anne Richardson.
Our panel discussion covered a good deal of ground identifying both challenges, clarifying the roles of agents and school-based counselors; increasing awareness of regional programs and resources; how to develop and update the right content at the right level; how to get the right people to the right places; and opportunities: emergence of regional networks (discussed below), potential certification and associated curriculum, and how to get the word out through awareness campaigns. Below, I will focus on two main areas of discussion: the growth of in-person regional conferences and institutes, and low-cost, high impact on-line spaces.
In-Person: Regional Conferences & Institutes
If networking and outreach are a natural fit with capacity building and, since international admissions staff travel extensively, we talked about how to encourage our admissions colleagues to bookend their tour or small travel itinerary with regional conferences or institutes.
Upcoming regional in-person capacity building opportunities include: IC3 Conference (Mumbai, 31 August – 01 September); TAISI Leadership Conference (Gurgaon 29 September – 01 October); CIS – EARCOS Institute (Bangkok 30 September – 01 October), International ACAC Institute – Africa (Nairobi, 20 – 22 October); Global University Counsellor Connect (Singapore, April 2017). If you are aware of other opportunities, please email me here.
On-Line: Question-and-Answer Spaces
In reality though, since many of us in this community spend quite a bit of our time engaging internationally from our desks or the occasional arm-chair, our conversation turned to asynchronous, on-line and distance strategies. Question-and-Answer spaces that support school-based counselors in new, and unexpected, places are on Facebook International ACAC Group or College Admissions Counselors Group for example, and via email list serves, NACAC Exchange Listserve. For the adventurous, try Quora, where under Topic: College and University Admissions, an active discussion on college admissions processes never stops. Parke Muth’s posts on Quora have been viewed a mere 1,671,097 times as of last week.
Please drop us a note if you have thoughts about this topic or if you would like to be more involved in future discussions.
For those looking for great free or low cost resources on school-based college counseling for international students, check out Fundamentals of College Admission Counseling, Step by Step: College Awareness and Planning for Families, Counselors and Communities, Guide to the College Admission Process, College Board International Student Handbook.
Supporting College Counseling in India: Jim Rawlins Guest Op-Ed
“By 2026, the K-12 international school market will almost double, reaching 16,000 schools teaching 8.75 million students,” reports Sara Custer, in this week’s PIE News. Now, for those of us working in roles where a commitment to serving students is at the core of everything we do, this should cause us to pause and reflect.
Why? Because, it appears that the increasing global interest in “foreign university degrees” (or what for the purposes of this post we will refer to as “liberal arts style undergraduate education”) is one of the key drivers.
Sara Custer again, “Traditionally populated by children of expats, international high schools are now catering to the teenagers of wealthy locals,” and “Overwhelmingly, the surge in international schools has been and continues to be fuelled by demand for a top foreign university degree.”
Looking specifically at India, International Schools Consultancy Group, one of the leading companies collecting data on the international high school sector (and one of the sources for the PIE News articles), puts the current number of international schools at somewhere just over 400. Given my experience from similar dynamics in China over the past decade, I would add to that number many high schools teaching curricula related to domestic qualifications with a significant and growing cohort of students interested in investigating opportunities in liberal arts style undergraduate institutions, foreign and domestic (for example, O P Jindal Global University).
All of this is background for our guest post today by Jim Rawlins, former president of NACAC, and current Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management & Director of Admissions at University of Oregon. The essay is actually a re-printing of an op-ed Jim wrote for the June issue of one of India’s leading education publications, EducationWorld, highlighting of the role of college counseling.
“Counsellors need to broaden horizons”
By Jim Rawlins, former president of NACAC and current Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management & Director of Admissions at University of Oregon
More than ever before, school leaving students and their families, are expressing interest in enrolling in universities and higher education institutions (HEIs) abroad. Therefore, school principals and counsellors need to raise their knowledge and awareness of HEIs overseas and connect with their admission representatives and offices. Simultaneously, they need to develop the skill-sets of their teachers and counsellors to help and advise students aspiring to study abroad.
Quite rightly, international post-secondary education is regarded as highly beneficial for students interested in rising to leadership positions domestically and overseas, because study abroad will equip them with creative, multi-disciplinary and innovative education that is the prerequisite of business and professional success in the newly emergent global marketplace.
With several thousand options available in the US and elsewhere, a school’s counselling unit needs to be sufficiently knowledgeable to help students explore and prioritise options. It also needs to be sufficiently competent to help students submit strong, persuasive applications to most preferred universities/HEIs. Over time, school counsellors need to develop strong and durable ties with college admission offices, even if the vast majority of them have not had the experience of higher education abroad.
Reaching these goals involves collaboration across schools, and international boundaries. For that reason, my colleagues are excited about attending the 2016 IC3 Conference, which will bring secondary school leaders and counsellors face-to-face with global university representatives in Mumbai later (August 31-September 1) this year. The conference will provide a great opportunity for school leaders to connect with several of the world’s best higher education institutions, and ensure these HEIs learn about the strengths of India’s best secondary schools. Simultaneously, Indian school leaders and counsellors will get an opportunity to interact with their counterparts abroad.
For school students in India who might be looking for a great engineering programme at Georgia Tech, or a strong programme in green chemistry or environment sustainability at the University of Oregon, or a global affairs programme at Yale, there’s no substitute for connecting directly with the institutions which offer these disciplines and learning about the type of undergrads they prefer. Moreover, many US colleges which are renowned abroad for specific programmes are often domestically more famous for the broader education they provide. As principals and counsellors in India learn more about what American universities and HEIs offer students by way of broad learning and varied curriculum, it will help them reform and upgrade their own curriculums to empower their students to think across multiple disciplines.
In the United States, a long history of collaboration between secondary school counsellors and university admission officers has built mutual understanding. The major professional organisation of counsellors, NACAC (the National Association for College Admission Counselling), has been in existence for over 75 years now. Its 15,000 members include a growing number from abroad, and its personal outreach programmes and website (www.nacacnet.org) make it easier than ever for counsellors in India to join this community, and benefit from it.
During the past seven decades, NACAC has learned that success in helping students to enter the most suitable programmes and HEIs requires cooperation between school administrators, teachers, community representatives, government officials, parents, students and trained school counsellors to enable and facilitate student development and achievement.
This planning must begin early, not as an eleventh hour exercise. Counsellors must advise students set on entering particular universities not only on which final classes to attend in secondary school, but ensure they start doing so several grades earlier.
Acquiring counseling expertise requires more than signing up for seminars and conferences. School counsellors need to visit universities in the US and elsewhere. For instance visiting us in Eugene, Oregon, would enable Indian school counsellors to not only learn about highly regarded majors offered at the University of Oregon, but also interface with our faculty and get an insight into our institutional culture, climate, geography, and access other information which they could communicate to their students — even something as simple as where to find an energising cup of tea.
Whether through the 2016 IC3 Conference or other platforms, NACAC and its international affiliates, CIS (Council of International Schools), and other well-connected professional groups, I invite school principals and career/college counsellors to derive the benefits of reaching out and connecting with universities and HEIs abroad, especially in the US, to ensure the success of your students in a variety of settings. We look forward to Indian students coming to America to realise their hopes and expectations.
For those interested in learning more about the growth and development of school-based college counseling in India and the surrounding region, you may want to attend the 2016 IC3 Conference (31 August – 01 September, Mumbai, Taj Lands End Hotel). Hosted by KIC UnivAssist, with the support of content and media partners including The College Board and EducationWorld, the conference will connect 75+ of India’s leading high schools with 50+ world-class higher education institutions by bringing together school directors, principals and counselors with admissions officers from around the world.
EducationWorld is a leading education news magazine in India with a readership of 1 million countrywide. Promoted with the mission statement to “make education the #1 item on the national agenda”, every month EducationWorld spotlights institutions of learning in India and abroad, offers career counseling advice, education related news from around the world, insightful columns from columnists and interviews with educationists. Led by Dilip Thakore, founder-editor of Business India and BusinessWorld magazines, and co-founder/managing editor Summiya Yasmeen, EducationWorld is a publication of DT Media & Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.
Rethinking Europe, post-Brexit
Like many of you, I have been glued to the news doing my best to digest a constant stream of Brexit articles and opinions. And I am sure many of you are thinking; how will my role on a U.S. campus, where I am tasked with thinking strategically about global engagement, change?
Based on my recent reading, I recommend perhaps starting at 30,000 feet, with articles that catalog how Britain’s decision to leave the E.U. will impact campus internationalization. The European Association for International Education (EAIE), often thought of as the “NAFSA of Europe,” provides a clear summary of challenges in research funding, student and scholar mobility consequences. Another similar piece is by WonkHE, describing the “Brexistential threats universities now face.”
For analysis of how the decision might specifically impact admissions, you may want to read Elizabeth Redden on how universities are responding to short-term questions about E.U. students’ ability to fund their studies at U.K. institutions through access to loans, grants, and/or preferred tuition schedules.
Looking for data on student mobility trends? The WonkHE team is on it with a look at E.U. students in the U.K. from 2014-15 using HESA data, noting that E.U. students make up an approximate 5.5% of the total U.K. student population, with 46,230 graduate and 78,435 undergraduate students. HESA, for those like me who might not have known, refers to the Higher Education Statistics Agency that collects, analyzes and disseminates quantitative information about the publicly-funded U.K. higher education sector.
U.S. universities and colleges may want to take particular note that the number of E.U. accepted applicants to U.K. institutions has been increasing rapidly in recent years, some 11% from 2014-2015 according to Ben Jordan, a Senior Policy Executive at UCAS. More intriguing, and strategically significant, are the countries demonstrating the highest growth over this period: Romania (+34%, 2,450 acceptances), Italy (+26%, 2,630 acceptances), Poland (+25%, 1,660 acceptances), Spain (+16%, 1,850 acceptances), and France (+16%, 3,060 acceptances).
Still interested? Phil Baty, editor of THE World University Rankings, recommends that those looking for an in-depth understanding of potential after-shocks may want to read the just-released, 102-page “The Scale and Scope of UK Higher Education Transnational Education” by HE Global, a joint initiative between U.K.’s HE International Unit and the British Council.
It will possibly be a few months (or years) before we start seeing the real effects of Brexit, but one thing is certain: the uncertainty is here to stay. That said, I would like to conclude with an article by John Walmsley, principal at UWC Atlantic College in South Wales, in which he astutely reminds us that if an educational institution already has a diverse and international student population, recent events can offer “young people the chance to have structured and inclusive debates on the big national and world issues.”
My favorite international higher education blogs
As a newcomer to the field of international higher education, I wasn’t sure where to start to get myself up to speed on the industry. Over the last year I’ve voraciously read anything and everything I can get my hands on – from news articles from publications like The PIE News and Times Higher Education to the IIE Open Doors Reports. But by far, the most valuable resources I’ve found on the subject have been blogs. So whether you’re new to the field or searching for some new perspectives from the best international higher education blogs, I’ve put together a list of my favorites:
Published by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Admitted publishes insights, data, and resources to help counselors advise students on their options for pursuing secondary education. Admitted is also a great resource for admissions and recruitment offices as it gives awareness of key topics and talking points for potential students.
With more of a global perspective, the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) blog, Opening Minds discusses how the field of global higher education is changing and explores topics such as educational exchange, global student mobility, institutional partnerships and international development.
If you’re looking for tips on student recruitment, marketing strategies or social media guides, this is a great comprehensive resource. The Higher Education Marketing blogs are well-written and feature great pictures and graphics – and let’s just admit it, we all love a good infographic.
The world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing international education, NAFSA, writes a great blog, covering everything from public policy to educational exchanges, international education innovations to resources for international educators. The NAFSA blog is definitely a must-read for anyone in the industry.
Helping counsel students around the world about how to choose a best-fit university is a critical piece of our outreach and collateral at UnivAssist. To do this effectively, it’s important to understand the student’s psyche and the challenges they face as international students. That’s why I love The International Student Blog. It’s provides insight into students: what they’re thinking about, what challenges they face, and what’s most important to them.
So there you have it – some of the best international higher education blogs that I go to for news, insights, and research. What blogs do you read?
Just what are the global aspirations of high school students in India?
As we look forward to the rapidly approaching 2016 editions of NAFSA, International ACAC (formerly known as OACAC), NACAC, and the College Board Forum, I thought I would take the opportunity to look back at data presented about India during previous years. I think most of us now know that 2015 was a banner year for Indian undergraduate students coming to the U.S. with a 30% increase over 2014, according to Open Doors.
At the 2015 College Board Forum, Clay Hensley, Doug Christiansen, Angel Perez and Bryant Priester put together a fantastic set of slides on emerging opportunities for international student recruitment. In particular, I am curious about what re-examining the various SAT statistics might mean to North American colleges keen to see more undergraduate applications from India.
Travelling recently on the KIC UnivAssist Spring India Tour to Ahmedabad, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore with side trips to Chennai and Kolkata, I heard over and over again that increasing numbers of Indian high schools students are considering the U.S. for their undergraduate studies. And indeed, looking at the data, in this case the five-year compounded annual growth rate of SAT Reasoning Exam takers (2010-15), India was actually the fastest growing global region at +14%; the Middle East and East Asia trailed significantly at some 9% (a number that may drift even lower with the recent move by the Saudi leadership to cut scholarships, but that’s another topic for another post).
What’s perhaps even more noteworthy is that students from India taking the SAT are sending their scores to over 1,272 institutions across the U.S. This sizeable number implies that Indian students (and families) have both an openness to less-known institutions and tendency to look beyond commonly-accepted quality indicators (read “rankings”). Prospective undergraduate students from China on the other hand, averaged a third more SAT score sends per student (9.9 vs. 6.7) but targeted a substantially reduced set of colleges (1,063). By the way, prospective applicants from both countries were more open than those from Turkey, which forwarded scores to an average of 8.1 institutions among a total of just 554 colleges and universities.
So what does this all mean for the admissions and recruitment community? First, if we assume that the SAT is a good proxy for interest in U.S. undergraduate programs, India may surprise us. I have a hunch that other metrics, such as the growing number of schools offering IB, CIE and other various international curricular options will confirm this hypothesis, and I hope to share that soon. Second, given India’s size, geographic diversity and demographic profile, U.S. colleges and universities have a current window of opportunity where strategies that communicate each institution’s unique strengths, history and culture to “best-fit” students may translate to growing numbers of students from India on campus.
Is it time to double down on Brazil?
As Sunday evening rolled by, the lower house of the Brazilian Congress began its vote in the process to impeach the current president Dilma Rousseff, accused of hiding a budgetary deficit to win re-election in 2014. When the final tally was announced six hours later, more than two-thirds of the lawmakers voted to pass the motion. The impeachment motion will next go to the country’s Senate, and if a majority approves it there, Rousseff will have to step down for 180 days to defend herself in an impeachment trial. This would probably happen in May, three months before the Summer Olympics kick off in Rio de Janeiro – an event that was supposed to showcase Brazil as a rising power on the global stage.
“Bleak” is a word that I hear often to describe the current situation in Brazil. Compared to 2013, the real (R$) is down 50%, while simultaneously funding is drying up for the ground-breaking BSMP. What does this all portend from an internationalization perspective? Is it time to disengage, sit on the fence and see how things shape up? Quite the contrary, as I see it. I would suggest “doubling down,” and by that I mean to strengthen our commitment to a particular strategy – or in this case, to a country (and region for that matter).
Why do I say this? Because over the past three years, I have visited Brazil six times and (as the political uncertainty has grown) interest in U.S. undergraduate programs has increased significantly. As the largest country and the biggest economy in South America, Brazil is a land blessed with natural resources. The underlying factors that made this economy the B in the BRICS nations haven’t changed, but have been overshadowed by the negative news of corruption and political upheaval.
<< insert our student mobility graph & citation>>
According to our annual survey, Brazil is at top ten recruitment destination globally, and leads the western hemisphere in days-spent-in-country at just over a week/year. And I would say that having had a chance to interact personally with students and parents on several of our recruitment tours, the intent to find a solution for the student who wishes to study abroad has never been stronger. Now is the time when parents want their child to be away from all the uncertainty, safely immersed in a predictable environment that provides him or her an opportunity to pursue academic and career dreams.
NOW is the time to be in Brazil, interacting face-to-face with parents and students, helping them with their queries. If Brazil is a part of your longer-term strategy – this is probably the best time for you to invest resources in this essential country.
How to customize your communication to international students
As recruiters book plane tickets, dig up packing lists and put on their game faces for international travel this fall, some of the most important items they carry will be their student recruitment marketing materials. Around the world students will interact with recruiters, picking up printed information and having face-to-face conversations, bringing it home to parents, extended families and peers. As a recruiter, how much thought do you put into curating your messages for each of the unique audiences that they reach? Have you thought about how you can specially tailor and customize your communication to international students?
No one knows better than recruiters that you can see student audiences across various regions react to the same conversational approach or printed brochure with quite different results. If you can customize your communication to international students in a way that connects with their own culture, the “best fit” rule goes both ways: as students look for the best fit in a university, recruiters can tailor their communication style to best fit the audience. For example in India, prioritizing regular, face-to-face contact can have a big impact. It’s easy for students to miss emails and mailers in the “organized chaos” of this culture; but regular, personal contact – especially with high school counselors – cannot be underemphasized. Meet with students and parents directly, too – parents hold a hugely significant role in “helping” their children decide where to attend university, and making sincere inroads with them goes a long way.
In putting together the UnivAssist tours’ marketing materials, I help to review and edit over a hundred of our partner universities’ “pitch” communications every year for different regions around the world. This inevitably manifests juxtapositions, and sometimes glaring differences, in how much care universities put in to tailoring their message. From our research and experience, I’d like to share a few examples of successful strategies for conversations and marketing materials:
Majors, academics, rankings, and extracurriculars
These will always be a core component of your messaging, but knowing what to spotlight where can be critical. In China, be sure to underscore flexibility and choice of majors. One chief advantage of studying in the U.S. that really excites Chinese students is the leeway to (finally) choose their own path of study, and change majors if they want to. For students who are interested in multiple majors, they’ll be thrilled to know of the option to double-major and find an intersection between their areas of interest. Also in China, promote applicable teaching methods and your institution’s practical learning approach. Most students coming from China have a long educational background of repetition, standardized testing and highly prescribed schooling – in studying abroad, they are looking for the opportunity to engage with application-based education and learn-by-doing
Especially in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, be extra careful to not “force-feed” majors. Though you may know that “most” international students seem to pursue a specific set of majors, don’t assume that they all are coming for STEM or Business. Highlighting the availability and potential prosperousness of other majors and careers, as well as special leadership and entrepreneurial programs, is recommended here.
For India and Europe, give highest prominence to academics, university credibility and rankings above other topics. Pointing out extracurricular benefits (such as scenery or activities) actually detracts from university credibility – instead, focus specifically on course content, scholarly reputation, and the quality of your academic facilities. Don’t make selling points of the student union or flexibility of study. Show pictures of labs and libraries, not of the beach.
But, in marketing materials for Brazil, you should definitely include pictures of your beach! Brazilians are very fond of their beach culture – so when you develop brochures for this region, do use pictures of the beach. Lifestyle is important in Latin America, and promoting activities, landscape and culture is a great way to connect with them.
Finances, scholarships and job placement
Of course it is important to have transparency about finances with students everywhere, but it is particularly essential in Brazil and the Middle East. Discuss tuition costs and scholarships; finances are essential. Especially for the Middle East, encourage students to explore government-sponsored scholarships (which are common).
As a special note, talking about annual cost of tuition in Brazil misses the mark – students there often pay for schooling in monthly payment increments, so divide your annual tuition by 12 and discuss it that way.
In India, be sure to highlight job placement and employment rates after graduation. You’ll notice that students (and their parents!) take the long-term, big-picture view – they want to know what will happen to them after getting their degree at your university even more than they want to know what will happen to them at your university.
The college application and U.S. visa
Make a special point to stress the TIMELINE of the application process in Brazil and the Middle East. Don’t assume that students (or even counselors) understand the amount of time the application process takes, and how far ahead they need to start planning. This is especially true for the time needed to take (and re-take) tests.
If your institution places importance on a “holistic” application, explain that in the Middle East. Students and counselors may not understand the true significance of writing a great essay, attaching a prepared resume, and showing a well-rounded list of extracurricular activities in their college applications. Be sure to impress upon them that grades and transcripts do not solely “make” the application.
Emphasize the ease of the U.S. student visa process for Europe and Southeast Asia. For students from many countries in these regions (for example, Indonesia), the U.S. student visa process is likely to be less burdensome and complex than they might think – and this is definitely an added bonus for those students.
As a final piece of advice, don’t discount the importance of educating counselors in all the regions that you visit. Depth and breadth in counselor understanding of the U.S. higher education system can vary quite a bit, especially considering the relative fluidity of the system. Take the time to regularly guide counselors through the processes that their students need to master in order to achieve that “best fit” in higher education.
How do you customize your communication to international students? What else have you found that resonates?
Feel free to reach out to me directly with comments and questions.
Guide to Social Media for International Student Recruitment
Social networking is increasingly prevalent in both established and emerging countries around the world. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that a global majority of adult Internet users around the world use social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. On average, out of 30 countries listed in the survey, 86% of adults age 18-34 engage in social media… which means a likely 86% of your prospective international students are online, looking at your university’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Are you there to talk to them? What are you saying? Here’s our guide to using social media for international student recruitment.Benefits of Social Media for International Student Recruitment
The biggest reason to connect with prospective students on social media is simple: that’s where they are. For your message to be heard, you have to have an audience –and today, your prospective students are on social media. This is especially important for international students, since they are much less likely to visit your campus; they physically can’t come to you, so you’ve got to go to them.
Social media is also immediate: you can talk to someone halfway around the world in a matter of minutes. But more than speed, it’s also very personal. Despite being behind a desk on campus, you can easily tailor your messages and responses to each individual student thousands of miles away.Content on Social Media for International Student Recruitment
The most powerful aspect of social media is creating a conversation – these platforms are designed to be less formal, and you should strive to get your followers actively engaged. Leverage student ambassadors, get international alumni involved and don’t be afraid to ask your best faculty to chime in too. Here’s why:
According to a survey of international students by i-Graduate, the most influential factor in choosing a university is recommendations by friends. This means testimonials and direct contact with current and past international students should be a high priority. The survey also found that 32% of respondents said parents were an important factor – so don’t be afraid to create content that prospective students can share with their parents.
Part of having a meaningful conversation is talking about what matters most to your prospective students, and that isn’t the same for all international students. Students from different regions and different socio-economic backgrounds care about different things. So do your research to understand the psyche of the student your trying to reach, and tailor your message to them.Most Popular Platforms for Social Media for International Student Recruitment
Beyond embracing social media in general, universities should embrace a variety of platforms that suit their needs. If you’re trying to recruit from a specific region or country, the most efficient social media strategy will be one that prioritizes the most popular social media platform there. To help you out, here are the most popular social networking sites, by region:
Brazil has 103 million social media users. The most active social media platform in the country is Facebook, followed closely by WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
In China, 47% of the total population actively uses social media. The top three social platforms are WeChat, QZone and Sina Weibo.
The growth of India’s social media users is up 15% since January 2015, with the most popular platforms being Facebook, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.New Trends in Social Media for International Student Recruitment
Though blogs, webinars and video chats aren’t “big players” on the social media scene, they are becoming increasingly popular. One excellent way for universities to take advantage of these platforms, especially in terms of connecting with prospective international students, is through online yield events.
A recent survey by Ruffalo Noel Levitz found that 46% of international students planned to apply to 3-5 universities. Chances are, they’ll get admitted to more than one, which makes that yield meeting crucial. But not every university has the budget to send admissions representatives around the world twice a year to conduct in-person meetings. Holding virtual yield events are a great cost-effective alternative through Q-and-A blog posts, Skype calls, Facebook discussions and more.
For example, the University of California, Santa Cruz hosts several different types of online events and virtual initiatives for yield. They use tools including:
The University of San Diego does virtual open houses, webinars, as well as themed chats with staff and students.
Guest post from Parke Muth
After some 28 years at a highly selective research university, Parke Muth now consults with people around the globe about admissions and higher education. Just last month, the Soros Foundation dispatched Parke to Central Asia to talk with students all over Kyrgyzstan about U.S. educational opportunities. In his guest entry below, he shares some of his latest thoughts on recent shifts in Asia.
As a former Associate Dean of Admissions (International), I would venture to say that the education landscape has changed more dramatically in the last several years than at any time in history. And those who wish to keep up need to monitor trends and issues that affect students, families, secondary schools and colleges and universities – especially in China and India.
If what I have just written sounds like hyperbole, it isn’t. Not only does publically available data support my contention, but via Quora.com, a question-answer website, my posts have been viewed some 1,719,682 times, and more than 2/3 of the users are from Asia, particularly India.
First the publically available data, which shows an abrupt decline in graduate and undergraduate student mobility to the U.S. from China and an accompanying increase in Indian undergraduate students coming to the U.S.
When statistics were released last year detailing the number of international students, by country, that had chosen to apply and then enroll in U.S. colleges and universities, some were skeptical. At the time, The Chronicle’s Andy Thompson even wrote:
For the first time since the council’s [referring to the Council of Graduate Schools] reports began, in 2004, first-time enrollment by Chinese students in graduate programs at American universities actually dropped this year.
The writing has been on the wall for more than a year. In April 2013, the council reported that Chinese applications to American graduate schools fell 5 percent after seven consecutive years of double-digit growth. The drop was so unexpected that the council’s president at the time, Debra W. Stewart, didn’t believe it at first. The possibility that the dip was an aberration was proved unlikely this year, when the council reported that applications from China fell again.
Andy goes on to note that even with the drop in graduate applications, overall international enrollment continued to increase (by some 8%) mostly due to surges in graduate and undergraduate mobility from India to the U.S. (increasing 40% the previous year and 27% for the year in question).
For those of us like myself, who follow developments in Asia closely, the drop in Chinese student enrollment isn’t a surprise. A number of people have noted how China’s universities are opening up state-of-the-art labs, securing funding for research and hiring top Ph.Ds. with strong backed by the government, see here and also my own interview with The Chronicle’s Karin Fischer here.
Recognizing the slowing student mobility trends from China, U.S. colleges and universities are scrambling to diversify their international student recruitment strategy and India is and should be the place to go.
The 67% application growth rate of students over the last 2 years is a signal that India may have arrived. India now makes up 12% of the total international student cohort studying in the U.S., still behind China (32%) but ahead of Korea (8%) and others. To put this in terms of matriculated students, over the 2013/14 academic year 102,673 students from India (up 6.1% from the previous year).
Turning to qualitative, I maintain an active dialog on the website Quora.com, where my interactions with students and families, particularly from India (some 8 million users), reinforce the growing trend of, interest in applying to, and enrolling in, our institutions. Read more about my Quora engagement here.
What do these trends mean? First of all, U.S. college and university leaders should remember that the world changes. They need to visit schools and colleges. They should start gearing up for training staff on the range and scope of credentials from India.
And personally, I am encouraging leadership to consider spending far more time reading about, and on the ground in, India.
Globalization through a changing political climate
The arrival of International Education Week, following recent public statements on U.S. election results by NAFSA and AIEA, prompted me to dig through my collection of PDFs and bookmarks to re-examine what appears to be a highly relevant set of questions.
How do the terms “international” and “global” apply to day-to-day operations of colleges and universities? From international admissions and recruitment, international internships, career services for international students or students pursuing international careers, international student advising, international strategic engagement, and of course study abroad (internationally), there is without-a-doubt a lot of international activity. But, are we, as practitioners, really and truly good at explaining to our leadership, faculty, students, and communities the details of who benefits, how and why?
First, some definitions.
In her 2008, Higher Education in Turmoil: The Changing World of Internationalization (table of contents and introduction here), published as part of the Global Perspectives on Higher Education Series (edited by Philip Altbach, co-founder of the Center for International Higher Education), Jane Knight offers some useful distinctions/definitions of the terms internationalization and globalization.
Globalization, she writes, is “the process that is increasing the flow of people, culture, ideas, values, knowledge, technology, and economy across borders, resulting in a more interconnected and interdependent world.” Internationalization for higher ed, on the other hand, should be seen as “not an end in itself but rather is a means to an end” … [expected to] “contribute to the quality and relevance of higher education in a more interconnected and interdependent world.”
Sounds great. Who benefits?
As a starting point, I turn to John Hudzik’s NAFSA’s Comprehensive Internationalization From Concept to Action (John has been, among other roles, VP of Global Engagement at Michigan State). His list of benefits from campus internationalization includes: expanding cross-cultural knowledge and understanding given the increased frequency and necessity of cross-cultural contacts and relations; strengthening a higher education institution’s stature; value added in teaching and research in a global system of higher education; enhancing national and global security; improving labor force and local economic competitiveness in a global marketplace; enhancing knowledge, skills, attributes; and careers for graduates to be effective citizens and workforce members.
Campus internationalization in action.
In order to implement these noble goals and to receive the abstract benefits, there needs to be pragmatic action across the campus.
Returning to Hudzik, he cites three action areas: campus internationalization, “where one focuses on getting the parts ‘at home’ aligned,” under which he includes: courses and curriculum, international students and their role as internationalization agents on campus, and institutional policies; international mobility, in-bound and out-bound movement of students and scholars; and the growth of global higher education capacity, cross border inter-institutional collaborations and partnerships including those using technology (for example, MOOCs).
Another pair of researchers from University of California, Berkeley Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE), Richard Edelstein and John Aubrey Douglass, have broken campus internationalization strategies into a related – but more nuanced – list of “modes” in their publication, The International Initiatives of Universities – A Taxonomy of Modes of Engagement and Institutional Logics, which is expertly summarized by Kris Olds here.
Are we really and truly certain about who benefits, how and why?
It is understandable, I believe, to question whether these “benefits” are entirety accurate. For example, in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere, some have recently argued that international mobility may lead to decreased security, and result in fewer jobs for local citizens and so on.
In the words of Kris Olds, “What are the reasons and methods universities have chosen to become more globally active; how might we assess success or failure? What are the actual outcomes for nation-states that invite partnerships, and often provide significant initial financial support, on the quality and output of their higher education systems, on their labor markets, on their long-term economic development plans?”
Or for those that want to go back even further, can we learn from history at all? Read Universities 2030: Learning from the Past to Anticipate the Future, a recent collection of essays edited by Adam Nelson, a leading scholar of the history of higher education. He reminds us that looking to campus internationalization in response to major historical-structural change is not new.
If we assume for a moment that a constructive response to the challenges and opportunities of globalization is indeed a priority given recent events, then those of us working with U.S. colleges and universities – particularly with titles including “international” – are well-placed to respond at this historic junction. And I think that to do so effectively, we need to use data-driven approaches to both continually assess and demonstrate outcomes.
Whatever happens next, at least from my perspective, there is no more important international and global dialogue going on right now, than on the campuses of U.S. colleges and universities. So let’s get going.
Evolving trends of education in India
I grew up in a period when education was all about a framed syllabus. Our scope of learning new things was limited to text books, teachers, and the nearby library. I still remember that our school library had limited books, and most of the time they were already on a waiting list. If we wanted to read something, we had to wait for our turn. During my time in school, embracing technology meant learning to operate computers in class 6 and it was only in class 9 that we were introduced to the concept of the Internet.
With the dot-com boom of the late 90s, the Indian education system underwent a number of changes. The typical Indian classroom – with students sitting through hour-long teacher monologues – is now passé. Thanks to digitization, knowledge is not limited to the pundits or educators and where students once believed that “teachers know everything,” they now believe “Google knows everything.” These changing trends increase the responsibility on educators’ shoulders.
In today’s world, education is about preparing kids to evolve, and matching pace with rapidly developing social and economic scenarios. Schools need to train students for jobs that are yet to exist, to use technology that will be invented in the future, and to deal with social problems that are beyond imagination. To accomplish this, schools today believe in embracing diversity and nurturing personal growth.
Need for school counselors
During my school days, career counseling was not very prevalent. Most of the time, it was teachers, school faculty members or tutors (outside the school) who doubled-up as career counselors. Many times, students didn’t receive personalized guidance and were directed toward a few “trendy” career options. But just a few short years later, when my younger brother was set to graduate, things were much different – by that time, career counseling was much more recognized. Due to peer pressure, my brother had originally planned to sign up for a Chartered Accountant course, but one session with the professional career counselor changed his career path completely.
His counselor listened intently just like an old friend, and understood his professional desires more deeply. My brother was thrilled to learn about the options and variety of career choices available to him. After taking an aptitude test, he found a hidden knack for marketing and management, and took a Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS) program. My brother’s experience made me wonder, why not have career counselors at every school?
In comparison with the past few years, educational institutions have shifted focus from being curriculum-centric to being learning-centric. Realizing the importance of career counseling, many schools are now hiring dedicated staff to assist students with academic, social and vocational dilemmas. School counselors are playing an incredibly imperative role in looking after the development of students and retaining the ethos of the institution. Effective counseling programs are important to the school climate and a crucial element in improving student achievement.
Peeping into the future, it’s obvious that schools will be more technologically advanced than they are currently. Schools, along with their faculty and staff, will empower and connect learners in new and influential ways. In the past, successful curriculums were based on interaction – in the future, they will be based on participation. Previously, education revolved around delivered wisdom, but the future will be all about user-generated wisdom. Education has traditionally consisted of two fundamental elements – teaching and learning, with a heavy emphasis on teaching. Now, education is evolving and shifting focus to learning.
As a 90s kid, I feel that my generation is a fusion of the old and the new and it is our responsibility to strike the balance between “what was” and “what will be.” We carry perceptions from our time, teachers and parents, but before we pass these insights on to the future generation, it is important to fine tune them to match the current atmosphere. Education being the primary medium to pass on wisdom, we must adapt to its evolving trends and be a responsible “voice of change.” It is our duty to encourage counselors and academics who play a key role in banishing skepticism and ensuring that students are free to explore whatever field of study or career speaks to them. In the end, it is this prudent choice that should be carried forward to the future, to ensure the next generation’s success.
Does Uncertainty in Latin America Mean Opportunity for International Student Recruitment? by Swaraj Nandan & Tracy Beavers
Does uncertainty in Latin America mean opportunity for international student recruitment?
This year’s international student recruitment cycle is fraught with uncertainty, as many universities weigh the current U.S. administration’s intentions and the effects of recent legislation, such as the travel ban and H1-B visa changes. While political instability is a new feeling to many Americans, the story is much different in other areas of the world, particularly Latin America. Times are challenging there, and many parents are looking for opportunities to send their children abroad to pursue education in a more reliable environment. And, the U.S. and its higher education institutions still have a lot to offer – including more social and economic stability.
Spotlight on: Brazil
Brazil’s economy has been in dire straits for the last three years. Hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympic Games required significant investment in infrastructure and put a strain on an already flagging economy. In the last two years, the country’s economy has contracted by 7.4%, making this Brazil’s deepest recession in history. Unfortunately this year has continued the trend of an uncertain economy with the weakening of the Brazilian Real.
At the same time, Brazil has been struggling with huge political scandals, first resulting in the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff last year and continuing with arrests of high-ranking government officials. Now, Brazil’s current president has come under fire for allegedly approving hush money for a convicted former lawmaker. Protests have broken out across the country in response, with many calling for President Temer’s resignation.
Life in Brazil is difficult and uncertain right now. While some experts remain hopeful that the country will post positive economic growth by the end of the year, overall the economy is still struggling. Politically, the situation is even worse – with the highest-ranking officials embroiled in serious scandal. Corruption is a huge issue at every level of Brazil’s government right now, and there’s no end in sight.
Spotlight on: Colombia
Colombia has a long history of political violence throughout the last 10 years, between left-wing insurgents known as the Farc and the ELN (National Liberation Army) and right-wing paramilitaries such as the AUC – the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia. While peace was officially signed at the end of 2016, the country faces a long road of demobilizing the military, removing landmines and transitioning soldiers back to civilian life. The country has also had its share of political corruption scandals in the last few years, tied closely to similar issues in Brazil.
Finally, the economy of Colombia is projected to grow approximately 2.5% this year, after a dismal 2016 with El Niño causing significant damage and falling crude prices. While this is certainly great news compared to Brazil, the country’s economy is still slow, yet moderately stable.
Despite a somewhat positive economic outlook, and a signed peace agreement, Colombia is still very much in turmoil and faces an uphill battle to prosperity. With corruption scandals erupting across the country, this poses a real threat to all that has been built throughout the last few years.
Spotlight on: Ecuador
The economic situation in Ecuador is similarly delicate, although not quite as dire as Brazil’s. While the country posted modest growth between 2007 and 2014, the economy has seen a sharp downtown since then because of the fall in oil prices. In fact, The World Bank is projecting that Ecuador’s economy will fall by 2.9% this year, the region’s worst economic performance after Venezuela. Yet, a new president does bring with him some hope, with comments noting this new administration may be amenable to working with the International Monetary Fund to help stabilize the economy.
Politically, Ecuador is the most stable of the Latin American countries discussed in this blog. A new president was sworn in on May 24, but Lenín Moreno is from the same political party as the previous president, who held the office for 10 years. Certainly President Moreno faces challenges as a new administration takes office and looks to make a mark, but it’s nothing compared to the problems seen in Brazil or Colombia.
Ecuador’s short and long-term outlook is tenuous at best right now. The economy is tired and slow, and the new government hasn’t discussed any major plans to help. Politically, the country is stable, but many Ecuadorians will still be looking for better opportunities for their children.
What the U.S. has to offer
Thinking of the economic and political turmoil in Latin America, by comparison, the problems faced by the U.S. seem tame and manageable. Protests against the current administration have been peaceful, and so far recent legislation does not seem to be affecting the Latin American region as much as others (such as the Middle East). While many international students are concerned about safety in the U.S., due to worse circumstances in Latin America this issue may be of somewhat less importance to students from this region.
Plus, the economy in the U.S. is booming – household wealth is now at its highest level in a decade and unemployment has fallen to a 29-year low. This shows incredible opportunity for international students who prioritize learning beyond the classroom and dream of staying in the U.S. post-graduation to get some work experience.
However, it will be critical for U.S. admissions officers to remember that the Latin American economy isn’t as strong, which could mean affordability becomes an issue for more potential students in the region.
- Thus, if your university offers scholarships to international students, make sure that information is readily available.
- Fixed tuition, for all four years of a student’s undergraduate studies, could also be a great selling point to many Latin American families.
Why invest in Latin America
Looking back, when the international higher education industry scrambled with professors and students stranded due to the travel ban, one lesson became immediately clear. To survive whatever the future holds, universities must diversify their international student recruitment strategies. And Latin America holds tremendous opportunity for those willing to seize it.
It’s worth noting that Latin American students remain quite mobile, despite last year’s statistics. Like most of the region, a higher-level view is most useful, and the number of students studying in the U.S. from the region has grown by nearly 32% over the last five years.
While the region saw a slight decline in the number of students coming to the U.S. last year, almost all of that can be attributed directly to Brazil which posted a sharp decline – due to the termination of Brazil's Scientific Mobility Program. However, comparing students who were sponsored to study in the U.S. to those coming of their own volition is like comparing apples to oranges.
Universities who make connections and visit students in Latin America now will be in the best position to leverage those relationships for years to come. Families will remember those who came and provided strong, stable higher education solutions when they most needed it – and those who chose to stay and return later will find their jobs much more difficult.
Does History Matter?
A few years ago, in my previous position in the Office of the Vice Provost at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, I spoke to a group of students at High School Affiliated to Xi'an Jiaotong University (西安交通大学附属中学) about a new pre-college summer program we were launching. Following the assembly, Principal Wang Peidong did something unexpected—she gave me a tour of a new museum inside the school, where behind polished Plexiglas frames, highlighted by interactive video displays, I learned that the school was actually founded by the Business and Telegraphs Office in Shanghai way back in 1896, as part of Nanyang Public School (南洋公學), which encompassed this institution and three others. Some half-century later, the high school was re-named and re-located as a result of the restructuring of the education system in the late 1950s.
For those familiar with visiting Chinese high schools, it is much more common to be presented with a list of high-flying gaokao scores and college placements than black and white photos of well-loved teachers and the first graduating class. But, talking with a colleague about this experience on my return, he quoted Faulkner, “The past is never dead. It's not even past.” When I asked what he meant, he reminded me that every educational institution, high school or university, is, at its core, a collection of people who share a common purpose centered around learning and excellence.
Another example. If you haven’t met John Zachariah, the principal of the legendary Bishop Cotton Boys' School in Bangalore, grab your notebook, and prepare for a history lesson. A gracious host, Principal Zachariah’s office is located in one of the oldest buildings on campus.
He will tell you that outside his window is a green grass field, where for the past 130 years students representing local schools have fought for the prized “Cottonian Shield,” in an interschool cricket tournament. He will tell you that Bishop Cotton Boys’ School was the first school in Asia where the house system, a feature common to public schools in England, was introduced. Or that, although founded by clergy affiliated with the Church of England, today the school is governed by the Church of South India. Or that the school’s alumni, known as “Old Cottonians,” are actively involved in preserving its legacy and its future. In fact, I would guess that if you have enough time, everything about Bishop Cotton Boys' School would have a story that connects its mission, quality and values.
Why does this matter? Because history matters. Founded a few dozen years after Bishop Cotton Boys’ School, but still a really-long-time-ago, of course the High School Affiliated with Xi’an Jiaotong University has a story. And stories that connect to tradition are important to everyone involved, even if they present them differently. And as we visit these amazing institutions, let’s remember taking the time to reflect on these stories help us to understand each school’s unique culture of learning and excellence. And for that purpose, history does matter. A lot.
Decoding the U.S. education system through an Indian lens
As a young student, I was quite eager to learn about how to study abroad. At that point, there were considerably fewer options for studying abroad and there was very little versatility in terms of courses. Since then, the education sphere has widened radically and studying abroad now allows students to explore opportunities based on their individual aspirations and skills. The evolution of this sector in a span of just a few years is truly incredible.
Today, with every enrollment season, we witness a fresh batch of students moving abroad for higher education and that number is increasing rapidly. In the 2015-16 academic year, 1,043,839 international students studied at U.S. universities, according to the recently released 2016 Open Doors Report – and that number has steadily increased over the last 10 years. So why are international students flocking to the U.S. in ever increasing amounts?
The Open Doors report cited these reasons as:
- Aggressive recruitment by institutions
- Growth of the middle class
- Increase in the institutional support staff
- Difficulty in getting admissions in top universities in students’ home country
The above are merely an aggregate of reasons for all countries, so I decided to delve deeper to find India-specific details. The IIE Open Doors report found that there was a whopping +24.9% increase in the growth of Indian students seeking higher education in the U.S., which is a record high of 165,918 in the academic year 2015-16.
Applying the Indian filter
Experts from the education field agree to the contributing factors listed by the IIE report, but they feel there are other elements that drive this growth. Sandipa Bhattacharjee, Head of English & Counselor, UG Admissions at Chinmaya International Residential School in Coimbatore, feels that Indian schools themselves play a big role. She explains, “The growth of Indian students moving to the U.S. is also because of the eye-opening experiences provided by some international schools in India, especially schools following IB curriculum, and to some extent even schools that deliver the IGCSE curriculum, which encourage experiential learning and research.”
Ms. Bhattacharjee also highlighted an important aspect that is closely interlinked with the education system in India: competition. She elaborates, “Considering the competitive environment in India, getting selected on the merit of their qualifications is rewarding, and in turn lucrative compared to others whose futures depend upon performance in the entrance test. In short, peer pressure has a big role to play in this process.”
Peer pressure is a key reason for students to look to the U.S. for education prospects, but prestige of the institution also largely drives this growth. A degree from a top U.S. university is valued more in the job market, and this propels students to look at education options outside of their home turf.
Is the U.S. still the ultimate destination for higher education?
There are mixed responses to this question, as other countries such as Canada, Australia and the U.K. are stepping up and becoming more popular. Here’s what Geeta Jayanth, Head of High School and Guidance Counselor, Bangalore International School had to say: “The U.S. still continues to be a hot destination for students as it is known for providing quality education, research facilities, work opportunities, and is also considered a safe haven for international students. However, over the last 2-3 years, I see a shift in focus towards [other] international educational destinations.”
The recent U.S. presidential elections have led to Indian media reporting apprehensions among some students looking at U.S. higher education. U.S. universities have stepped in quickly to reassure aspiring students, and while there has been no impact on the education policy yet, everyone is keeping a close watch to see what could be the next move.
Ms. Bhattacharjee also expressed her reaction to the news, “I feel that college admissions for Indian students may not be affected immediately – for two years at least. We need to see how the policies affect the average Indian. Ultimately, the universities do want international students at the end of the day. Probably, there will be a desire for these students to come back to serve in India.”
TestWhile political and financial shifts are known to make or break any sector, they also end up giving birth to new trends through widening the options and letting the masses select the best alternative. This is exactly what has happened with the education system as well.
Ms. Jayanth shares her view on this change, “I see a healthy trend in the spectrum of academic streams chosen by Indian students. A few years ago, engineering was the hot favorite. Parents would not consider investing in their ward's education if it was not for STEM or business programs. But now, I see parents opening up and ready to fund students for programs like visual arts, film study, journalism, international relations, culinary science, etc.”
“There definitely seems to be a desire to find out what is one’s calling and not just wanting to jump on to the engineering or medicine bandwagon. Overall, there is some sense of individuality and I find students encouraging each other, talking to parents of their friends, to help each other on to the path of their calling”, Ms. Bhattacharjee added.
The education sector has come a long way and I have witnessed this evolution at a personal level. Teamed with adaptability and dynamism, this sector is only set to grow even further in different dimensions. Indian students who often opt for traditional education streams are now exploring new terrains.
Traditionally, Indians are hardwired to be aspirational and encouraged to dream big. This cardinal rule applies to getting a good education that will transpire into a well-paying job. With such rewarding prospects and a promising future ahead, it is quite clear through these years of growth rates why the U.S. has become – and will continue to be – the top destination for education.
Internationalization and Online Education: an Interview with Rebecca Clothey Ph.D., Drexel University Professor of Education by David Joiner
Internationalization & online education: an interview with Rebecca Clothey Ph.D., Drexel University Professor of Education
Rebecca Clothey is a professor of Comparative Education at Drexel University, School of Education and former Director of the M.S. in Higher Education and M.S. in Global and International Education, two graduate programs that are offered online. Her research interests include international higher education policy, equity and access. She was formerly also the Director of Curriculum Development for CET Academic Programs based at Capital Normal University in Beijing, China. CET is a study abroad organization that offers international programs for American undergraduate and graduate students in Europe and Asia. Dr. Clothey was selected by the U.S. State Department to conduct elections training for the OSCE Mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina and has been awarded two Fulbright Fellowships to China and Uzbekistan. She has a Ph.D. in Administrative and Policy Studies from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Education. She was interviewed by David Joiner.
Can you start by giving me a quick overview of online education?
With over 3.9 million students in online programs in the U.S. alone, online students tend to be non-traditional, often times juggling children, full-time jobs and other multiple responsibilities. Online education is one strategy that universities turn to in order to attract this population not able to enroll and attend classes more typically associated with our understanding of campus life, due to various constraints.
From what I have heard, there has been recent growth in online learning internationally, in particular China.
Asia currently has the largest number of online students, with 70 open universities. One of the ways that we see China using online learning is as a way of sharing resources between universities. For example, China's government gives grants to professors at various universities to help them improve their undergraduate teaching materials and then put them online. The idea is that less prestigious institutions can benefit from the countries’ best instructors and improve their own courses. Chinese universities now offer more than 10,000 courses online. In the majority of cases, these courses attract non-traditional students who did not go through the Gaokao systems and therefore in many ways, online education presents an opportunity for students that may have fallen through the cracks.
There are also a growing number of examples of international universities developing online education offerings in collaboration with universities in China. The majority of these have been in the English language training area, for example the Sino-UK e-Learning Program was a cooperative effort between the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Chinese Ministry of Education to promote innovation in e-learning. On another note, it is also interesting that we are seeing more U.S. students living overseas enrolling in U.S. online programs.
Blended programs are a great example of how U.S. universities are using technology as part of their internationalization strategy. A good example is a University of Chicago Booth School of Business Executive MBA program, where the students meet once a month face-to-face in Hong Kong, London or Chicago. In fact, many of the students are from mainland China, but they meet in Hong Kong because of the excellent regional transportation options. What makes this program work well is how in-person interaction is designed to supplement the work that students do online.
If you think about one of the big trends globally, which is an interest in liberal arts education, what is the online or technology piece bringing to the discussion?
As you are probably aware, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been one of the most talked about trends in this area, but the question has really become how to pay for MOOCs. If the development of these courses is not free, then how do universities that offer them cover their costs? Some universities are looking at partnerships with organizations, where the university will recoup a portion of the cost of the MOOC, others are breaking up degrees into smaller packages, and still others, like Georgia State University are testing smaller MOOCs that feel much more similar to in-person instruction. However, it seems that the experience of most institutions has been limited to building name recognition, by showcasing their knowledgeable and engaging faculty. MIT for example, an early pioneer, has really benefited from the global awareness of MOOCs.
You have a lot of experience in more traditional forms of internationalization, such as your work with CET on study abroad. What is it about technology that is really driving the international agenda? How are some of the more forward-looking universities fitting these pieces together?
Great question. At Drexel, we have a grant specifically encouraging international collaboration, and the premise of it is that your class is co-taught with a faculty member at another international university. Some faculty members have approached the challenge in a synchronous way, where the class here meets at 8:00am and the one in China at 8:00pm (of course the students have to be fine with that), but in Latin America the time difference is only an hour or two. Others have used concepts of group work, where teams of students from both countries will collaborate using both synchronous and asynchronous tools.
Online conferences are growing in popularity. Most people are familiar with the webinar format, where you have one person or a panel presenting on a topic and students can log in. Online conferences are similar, but they happen over a longer period of time, some for 24 hours, so you can, if you like, get up and attend a panel discussion at 2:00am. Most of these conferences are recorded and then posted online, often with tools that allow ongoing interaction.
We have also been thinking about how we might have some of our online Master’s degree students presenting their capstone work to the general public. Prospective students could then be invited to these spaces and have an opportunity to get a better feel about the type of work they would be doing with us.
From the Himalayan Foothills to a Pennsylvania Liberal Arts College: an Interview with Preeti Rajendran by David Joiner
From the Himalayan foothills to a Pennsylvania liberal arts college: an interview with Preeti Rajendran
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got into college counseling?
So, it’s a bit of an “all over the place” story. I was born in Papua New Guinea and spent my early years on a ship. A floating bookstore that travelled around the world bringing books to developing nations, like an amazon.com but on a ship. Eventually, my family decided to move back to India. When I was in the 10th grade at Clarence High School in Bangalore, I knew I wanted to go into counseling and worked my entire way through high school and later college, finishing a Master’s in Clinical Psychology with a focus on third culture kid identity along with marriage and family therapy.
After my M.A. I stayed on in Chicago for a year before moving back to India. I visited a friend I knew from Chicago who was working at Woodstock School and she suggested I come on board. I did and fell in love with Woodstock and was there for nine years.
About a year ago, I decided that I wanted to try working on the higher education side for a while. Change is good. One of the first people that I reached out to was Kristin Crosby, Director of International Recruitment here at Washington & Jefferson College. We actually talked about my goals at the International ACAC Conference, before I was planning to leave Woodstock, and although I applied for jobs at campuses all over the U.S., the H1B status continued to be a challenge. Then three months into leaving Woodstock, Kristin emailed me and asked: we're looking to hire and we'd think you’d make a great addition.
Now that you have been at Washington & Jefferson College for seven months, can you share one thing that has surprised you in your new role?
I still get to spend a lot of time with students. We have a relatively tight group of international students with a total student population of some 1,400 all together. It's easy to keep track of international students, have dinner with them, talk about internships, check on how they are doing, making them chai and Shin Ramyun, helping them store their boxes in my house before they leave for the summer (not kidding). I love that I still get the luxury of spending time on campus and time with students. Woodstock made me love this part of my role, and I am able to continue it at W&J!
What are three things that those currently working in admissions and recruitment should know about India?
First, there are just as many well-off Indian students as there are students who have limited needs. They are all looking for the same opportunities to go to the U.S. and so at the end of the day you have to juggle what's best for each student.
That leads to the next point: sometimes, it's better to encourage a student to stay on in India and do their undergraduate study there. A growing number are looking at Ashoka University, Shiv Nadar University and others. I think there's a shift, a pride in young people for what India is and a lot of these young people want to sustain their culture and keep India moving forward. There is a building excitement of what education can look like and strides toward making it happen.
Third, there's an excitement in India about what a U.S.-style undergraduate education – and in particular liberal arts colleges – can offer. It's a slow shift, but it's a definite shift. Students and families are starting to realize the importance of giving themselves that option, something that's not engineering, or medicine. When I was recruiting for W&J recently in India, the number of kids that came up to me from national schools and said they're looking specifically for small, liberal arts colleges was fantastic. I was so excited. And just seeing that change in the thinking of young people is just wonderful.
What advice would you give someone interested in becoming a college counselor in India?
India is of course colorful, loud, busy, has exceptional shopping. It can be insanely hot in the plains, but then you can find refuge in the mountains, and it can be freezing in the mountains, and you can find yourself on a beach in Kerala.
Education is booming in a very different way in India. There are so many opportunities. It's not just the school you're working for, you are embracing a lifestyle in a rapidly changing India. Schools all over India are plugged into a society that is looking to make a difference.
It's a very exciting time.
Addressing the Dilemmas of College and Career Counseling
As a 9th grade student, my mother asked me, “What do you want to become when you grow older?” and my response was “Molly Abraham”. My mother was surprised that I named my math teacher rather than mentioning a lucrative profession like engineering or medicine. She exclaimed immediately, “Son, I don’t want you to starve.” Her worries on my line of profession were justified and I could understand where she came from. The situation of academicians and teachers was quite dismal a few decades back, and the trend still continues in some sections of the society. Teachers received tremendous respect, but they collected a measly paycheque.The Fear Factor
My mother inadvertently had sown the seeds of fear (of financial turmoil) with the profession called “teaching,” and I was obliged to choose a safer career in engineering. Such fear-based decision making with careers is at the heart of our challenge today. It’s no surprise that we have ended with a world full of grumpy 35-year-olds who are doing things they don’t like, or young people choosing a career or college only because of historical data (with their family or friends) and not passion. The pertinent challenge is also that most people fail to realize the enormity of career and college counseling in school. Ideally every school needs to factor in a college and career-counseling department that will go a long way in grooming these young individuals towards a gratifying career path.
I was fortunate that I took up teaching and advising on careers after an engineering degree. And I have enjoyed every moment of my life over the last twenty years doing what I love.Changing The Tide
Change is inevitable and it is required at frequent intervals in order to evolve and progress. Below are some steps that can accelerate the process and ensure that students are able to make informed career decisions. These are also some points that academicians and counselors need to be cognizant of, in order to groom and guide young pupils towards a rewarding career.
- When past and future collide: We live in a world where a product or service launched three months ago becomes obsolete today. The same rule applies to education trends as well. Before students select careers, they need to go to the right source – which is a career counselor. While parents will be decision-makers, they may not always have information that is updated. Career decisions need to be made looking at the future, and not the past. This is where schools need to step in with a counseling department and ensure that the counselor is given the required tools in order to stay ahead of the game.
- Counseling needs to begin early: Most people assume that their children mature themselves towards career-related conversations by 12th grade, but this is only a misconception. The ideal time to start with counseling is grade 8 or 9, as this is the time when a child ponders about his passions and professional interests. This is the perfect time when the student can start exploring and preparing for his future and pave his path smoothly towards a career of choice.
- It’s not always about the aptitude: Aptitude tests are not the “be all and end all” with choosing careers. It is only an exercise to point students in certain directions, which need to be explored fully.
- Accepting diversity and convergence: Increasingly, fields of study are converging, be it Physics and Psychology or Agriculture and Economics or Biology and Mathematics – we need to acknowledge and understand this change to make an appropriate career decision. While static information will continue to make its presence felt, students need to accept diversity and be courageous in their choices else they risk pursuing careers that will become redundant.
I still remember how tough it was for me to explain to my father-in-law about my profession and what I do. It took him nine years to fully understand the significance of my work – and he is an accomplished scientist who retired from a premiere research institution. This says a lot about where we are even with a basic understanding of this profession. Whether it is rural or urban India, the reality is the same. The difference is, in rural India, people are humbler and acknowledge their ignorance – while in urban India, there is a resistance to accept that. Let us invoke that “childlike” attitude towards careers and open the doors to joyous living.
3 Ways to Leverage Your International Recruitment Tour: Conferences, Media (Social & Print), Alumni by Emily Pacheco
3 Ways to Leverage Your International Recruitment Tour: Conferences, Media (Social & Print), Alumni
It’s late summer, with just about a month before that endless intercontinental flight to the tour gateway. Viewbooks, shipped. Visas, check. Immunizations, ouch! There is still time to think about how to best leverage your remaining weeks in-county to achieve your goals of building brand awareness, increasing applications and enrolling best-fit students. Here are three ways to leverage the impact of your tour and boost results:
#1 Bookend the tour: regional conferences expand connections with local counselors
The number of English-medium international schools is booming, enrolling some 4.2 million students in over 8,000 schools globally. And since many of these “host country” international schools serve students focused on foreign degrees, many of the college counseling personnel at these institutions rarely, if ever, attend U.S.-based events (IACAC, NACAC, NAFSA, AACRAO etc.) – leaving a growing number of regional conferences to fill the gap. If you are willing to get involved, these events can provide outstanding networking opportunities: International ACAC Regional Institutes (China, UK, Africa this fall); CIS-ERCOS (Thailand); IC3 Conference in Mumbai (India, Southeast Asia, Middle East) hosted by UnivAssist, and APAIE (Taiwan) are several just to name a few. Adding a conference to the beginning or end of your tour can add tremendous value to your time in the region.
#2 Remember social media is key, but print media isn’t dead yet either
Every U.S. college has amazing stories to share. Talk to your institution’s communications team and see if there are any stories that could connect to your tour countries. Of course you want to get up to speed on the social media landscape of the tour countries, but also reach out to local (print and radio) media in the region where you are traveling. India, for example saw an increase in print media newspapers and magazines in 2015, with huge subscription rates. Alternatively, you can explore various ways to get additional promotion including paid advertising or working with local firms that specialize in public relations. A promotional story can go a long way in helping you gain valuable brand awareness and result in more personal interactions during your tour.
#3 Don’t forget your best brand advocates: connect with your enrolled students and alumni
If your college has enrolled students from your tour countries, why not build on these connections to enhance your visit? After all, they are local experts and (hopefully) outstanding advocates. Treat them for coffee, ask questions and above all listen. Don’t forget to also look up any alumni with local roots and/or expats working overseas. Many institutions are discovering the value of international alumni and either have or are creating methods of staying in contact. Your ability to access this data, and these potential supporters, can make all the difference in turnout. Schedule meetings with students and alumni. There isn’t any brochure or recruiter that will make a better case for your college than a happy current or former student. Tap this valuable network!
Have other suggestions? We would love to see your comments below.