Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses-2017 Edition

This is an excellent report produced by the American Council on Education and sponsored by Navitas.  Here’s a brief description from the ACE website:

Conducted every five years, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses assesses the current state of internationalization at American colleges and universities, analyzes progress and trends over time, and identifies future priorities. It is the only comprehensive source of data and analysis on internationalization in U.S. higher education, and includes two- and four-year, public and private, degree-granting institutions.

148x193-mapping-2017-coverI’ve taken the liberty of excerpting the information below about student mobility and international student recruitment (pp. 25-26).  Viet Nam is one of the top three countries – after China and India – cited as a geographic target in 58% of the recruiting plans cited by respondents. (Bold red is mine.)

International student recruiting

Planning and goal-setting frame international student recruiting efforts for many institutions. Funding for various recruiting mechanisms and activities is increasing, though undergraduate recruiting is a greater focus in terms of resource allocation than graduate student recruiting.

Nearly half (48 percent) of institutions have an international student recruiting plan in place—either for the institution as a whole, or for one or more schools/colleges. Of these plans, over 80 percent specify numerical enrollment targets for undergraduates, graduate students, or both.

Fifty-eight percent of the recruiting plans cited by respondents include geographic targets. By a clear margin, the top three target countries are China, India, and Vietnam. These are followed by four additional countries, each of which was identified by 30 to 40 percent of respondents as a target: South Korea, Brazil, Japan, and Saudi Arabia. While these priorities generally hold across sectors, Japan figures particularly prominently as a target country among associate institutions.

The percentage of institutions providing funding for travel by institutional recruitment officers to recruit both undergraduate and graduate students increased in 2016. Nearly twice the percentage of institutions fund such travel for recruiting at the undergraduate level (44 percent) as at the graduate level (23 percent).

Just over a third (36 percent) of institutions employ technology other than email and web pages in their recruiting efforts (e.g., by participating in virtual college fairs and delivering online information sessions for interested students). While the 2016 and 2011 data on this indicator are not fully comparable, they suggest an upward trend.

The percentage of institutions that provide scholarships or other financial aid for undergraduate international students increased by eleven percentage points to just under half (49 percent), while the proportion offering funding to graduate international students increased from 24 percent to 30 percent. Not surprisingly, the latter is much more common among doctoral and master’s universities than at institutions in the other three sectors.

A markedly higher percentage of institutions are engaging overseas student recruiters (agents) than in 2011. Though undergraduate recruiting is again the primary focus, as illustrated in Figure 12, for both the undergraduate and graduate levels, the percentage of institutions providing funding for recruiting agents more than doubled between 2011 and 2016. For both student populations, master’s institutions engage agents at higher rates than colleges and universities in other sectors.

Follow this link to download the report


A Passage to America: University Funding and International Students

Attention US higher education colleagues!  Here’s an interesting research paper about the economic impact of international students at institutions that have taken hits in public funding for the past couple of decades. 

Here are the money sentences:  For the period between 1996 and 2012, we estimate that a 10% reduction in state appropriations is associated with an increase in foreign enrollment of 62% at public research universities and about 6.7% at the resource-intensive AAU public universities. Our results tell a compelling story about the link  between changes in state funding and foreign enrollment in recent years.

International students contributed more than $35 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

You can download a PDF version of this paper.   



Substantial subsidies to public higher education in the United States
have historically allowed in-state students at public colleges and universities to pay markedly lower tuition and fee levels than counterparts who are not state residents. Yet, state appropriations for higher education have declined markedly in recent years. For university leaders facing declines in funding, potential margins for adjustment include raising revenues through increases in tuition levels, reducing resources per student (and potentially quality) by cutting expenditures, or changing the mix of students admitted to include more students paying non-resident tuition. At the same time, with strong economic growth in countries like China and India in recent decades, the pool of students from abroad academically prepared for U.S. colleges and able to pay the tuition charges has increased markedly in the last decade.  In this paper, we examine whether “funding shocks” in state appropriations have led public universities to attract more foreign
students who are able to pay the full fare tuition. For the period between 1996 and 2012, we estimate that a 10% reduction in state appropriations is associated with an increase in foreign enrollment of 62% at public research universities and about 6.7% at the resource-
intensive AAU public universities.Our results tell a compelling story about the link  between changes in-state funding and foreign enrollment in recent years

Recruitment Beyond China: Lower-Middle-Income Countries Show Promise

Recruitment strategies that focus on lower-middle-income countries, many of which are home to an upwardly mobile, aspiring middle class, are particularly important for institutions that are outside the top-tier. Research by WES shows that outbound students from these countries, especially those at key inflection points in their academic careers, tend to prioritize career opportunities over reputation when choosing where to study.

WES logoIn this excellent and timely WES (World Education Services) report on mobility trends Viet Nam is mentioned as one of four (4) lower-middle-income countries that are a “rising force in international enrollments.”

Among the highlights is this section entitled New Students; New Motivations.

Given that lower-middle-income countries have begun to emerge as viable sources of qualified students institutions need to understand student motivations and to design their recruitment strategies accordingly.

WES conducted a survey last year in an effort to better understand how international students choose institutions.  It revealed some key characteristics that distinguish students from lower-middle-income countries from those in their wealthier counterparts.

  • They do not view college rankings as a primary deciding factor in deciding where to apply. 
  • They view career prospects after graduation as a higher priority than any other country income group.
  • They are price sensitive, but weigh long-term earning potential (the ROI of their investment in education) heavily. 
  • They place a high value on career services.

Another one of the findings was that students from lower-middle-income countries tend to apply to a higher number of institutions than their counterparts from wealthier nations.  As the report noted, This lack of commitment increases competition for enrollments, but it also creates opportunities for institutions that are able to differentiate themselves.

A number of the results reflect the current situation in Viet Nam, which means that this report is recommended reading for colleagues whose institutions have targeted Viet Nam as a priority country.

Follow this link to read the report in its entirety.



“Extraordinary” Educational Achievements in Viet Nam

Vietnam’s achievements in primary and secondary education over the last two decades are extraordinary. Out of 65 countries, Vietnam ranked 17th in maths and 19th in reading – surpassing both the United States and the United Kingdom – in the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the worldwide scholastic performance measure of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Here’s another headline you don’t see every day.  Congratulations to Viet Nam on its successes in the realm of education, especially math and science achievement.

rise logoThis £4.2 million ($5.4 million), six-year research project is being carried out by Research on Improving Systems of Education (RISE), a project launched in 2015 “to conduct high-quality research to build a body of world-class evidence to inform education policy, and to raise learning outcomes for children in the developing world.”

Research in Vietnam, and in at least five other countries, seeks to shift emphasis away from long-standing, input-oriented goals – children’s attendance in schools – and toward output-oriented achievements – increased literacy and numeracy skills.

RISE is supported by £27.6 million  ($35.7 million) in funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), whose contribution has enabled RISE to add a sixth country.

Specifically, the research will “undertake a systematic evaluation of Vietnam’s education system by analysing the status and impacts of past, current and upcoming educational reforms. The aim is to understand how policy levers made Vietnam’s exceptional achievements possible, and whether and how new reforms are able to build on its achievements.”  The key questions are:

  1. What explains Vietnam’s high levels of student learning?
  2. What impact will current and planned curriculum reforms have on student educational outcomes?

I’m pleased to see this kind of research being conducted and look forward with great anticipation to the results.  Follow this link to learn more about this research project and the Viet Nam country research team, a multidisciplinary group of nine researchers from Viet Nam, the US, the UK, and the Netherlands.


Top Emerging Markets for International Student Recruitment

Below are some excerpts from this World Education Services (WES) follow-up study to a 2012 research report that identifies key emerging markets for international student recruitment through 2018 and seeks to inform higher education institutions’ strategic planning by giving them a deeper understanding of future international student recruitment markets.

This report addresses two main questions:

  1. Beyond the traditional markets (China, India, and South Korea), what are likely to be the top four emerging markets for recruiting international students in the next three years, and what exactly makes these promising recruitment markets?
  2. What are the most effective strategies and practices for recruiting international students from these emerging markets?


In order of importance, survey respondents to the WES survey identified Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Nigeria as the top four emerging markets to watch over the next three years. In the past five years, these countries have shown substantial increases in the number of students studying in the U.S., alongside stable economic growth.

As identified in WES’ previous Emerging Markets report, Vietnam is and remains an important recruitment market, with outbound mobility growing significantly over the past 13 years. In 2013/14, there were 16,579 Vietnamese students studying in the U.S., making Vietnam the eighth-ranked nation among all sending countries. With steady growth in both the number of students arriving from Vietnam and also in the size of the country’s economy, Vietnam looks set to continue as a strong growth market. Vietnam’s economic growth will also enable parents from its growing middle class to send their children to study in the U.S. at a younger age. An increasing pool of Vietnamese secondary-school graduates in the U.S. also represents an emerging and significant recruitment channel for HEIs.


Note:  The US is once again the world’s leading host of Vietnamese students with nearly 26,000, as of February 2015, mostly at the postsecondary level.  Australia is second with 17,993 Vietnamese students at all levels.  Vietnam ranks 7th among all sending countries using the same type of data from SEVIS (DHS), having surpassed Taiwan and is about to overtake Japan.


Happiness (Among Nations) Is…

world happiness report 2015

This is one of my favorite annual reports, one that should be closely read by representatives of every government.  Color me naive but I believe that happiness is, after all, one of the primary purposes of government.  Keep in mind that this 172 pp. report is not only about “happiness,” as in “do you feel happy, dear citizen?” but rather about various indicators of quality of life in each country that form the basis for a happy and fulfilled life.

As the report notes, “the equation explains national average life evaluations in terms of six key variables: GDP
per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and freedom from corruption.   Taken together, these six variables explain almost three-quarters of the variation in national annual average ladder scores among countries, using data from the years 2005 to 2014.”

In this year’s World Happiness Report, published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Switzerland is the happiest country in the world.  The USA ranked 15th while Vietnam took the 75th position.  The countries in bold are among the top 20 countries that host Vietnamese students.  (Australia is currently #2 after the US.)  Their “happiness” is another selling point for those countries.

1:  Switzerland
2:  Iceland
3:  Denmark
4:  Norway
5:  Canada
6:  Finland
7:  The Netherlands
8:  Sweden
9:  New Zealand
10:  Australia

Other Asian countries in the same league of “happiness” as Vietnam in terms of how this report measures it include Hong Kong (72), Indonesia (74) and China (84).

I would argue that less attention should be given to GDP per capita.  (It uses Purchasing Power Parity, or PPP, adjusted to constant 2011 international dollars, taken from the World Development Indicators released by
the World Bank in November 2014.)  GDP PCI is, after all, a very general measurement of a country’s economic progress.  One obvious case in point is the US, where economic inequality is of historic proportions and there is much talk about the death of the American Dream, such as it was.

Speaking of which, in case you still believe a socio-economic US American Santa Claus, read these two articles for a reality check:

American Dream? Or Mirage? (1.5.15, NY Times)

The American Dream Is Dead — And These 6 Charts Prove It (28.4.15, Policy.Mic)

Cover of the first World Happiness Report (2012).
Cover of the first World Happiness Report (2012).

For those of us who work in the field of education the report’s “money chapter” is Chapter 8:  Investing in Social Capital.  Here are some excerpts from the introduction:

Well-being depends heavily on the pro-social behavior of members of the society.  Pro-sociality involves individuals making decisions for the common good that may conflict with short-run egoistic incentives.  Economic and social life is rife with ‘social dilemmas,” in which the common good and individual incentives may conflict.  In such cases, pro-social behavior – including honesty, benevolence, cooperation, and trustworthiness – is key to achieving the best outcome for society.

Societies with a high level of social capital – meaning generalized trust, good governance, and mutual support by individuals within the society – are conducive to pro-social behavior.

The pressing policy question is therefore how societies with low social capital riven by distrust and dishonesty, can invest in social capital.  The chapter discusses various pathways to higher social capital, including education, moral instruction, professional codes of conducts, public opprobrium towards violators of the public trust, and public policies to narrow inequalities in the various supports for well-being, income, health and social connections. (My italics.)  This is important because social and economic equality is associated with higher levels of social capital and generalized trust.

Now think of these issues as they apply to Vietnam and the US, a bundle of contradictions worthy of their own research study, or at least another blog post to lay a very general foundation.


Universities need to develop strategies to improve experiences of international students

Below is a summary of some important research from the blog of “Dr. Education,” aka  Dr. Rahul Choudaha:  DrEducation: International Higher Education Blog -Trends, insights and strategies on internationalization of higher education.  (Posted on 30.6.14)

Dr. Choudaha is the chief knowledge officer for World Education Services (WES) and the lead researcher for the report.  It reveals a wide variation in perceptions of why international undergraduate students in the U.S. leave their institutions of first enrollment before completing their degree.   (My italics.) The study, entitled U.S. Study of International Undergraduate Retention: Implications and Gaps between International Education Professionals and International Students, was sponsored by ELS Education Services, Inc.

Source: NAFSA research on international student research
Source: NAFSA research on international student research

One of the key takeaways of the research was “that poor retention is a function of the mismatch between expectations of students prior to enrollment and the actual experience of students once they are on campus.” Sheila Schulte of NAFSA noted that “The three main implications from the study that can help institutions set transparent expectations with international students are: understanding the diverse needs of the international student body, coordinating internationalization efforts across campus, and investing in programs and services that improve student experiences.”

Here are the related links covering the research:

Infographic on NAFSA International Student Retention Research
Why They Stay or Leave, Inside Higher Ed