International Education: It’s a Buyer’s Market
By Nick Clark and Robert Sedgwick
International Students: It’s a Buyer’s Market
Globalization and the challenge of competing in today’s knowledge-based economy has, in recent years, sparked a race to recruit the world’s best brains. The United States has long been the number one destination for international students, but over the last twenty years America’s absolute share of the market has been in decline. Now, in the post-9/11 world, this trend has been brought into sharp focus.
In 2002, 1.9 million students worldwide were enrolled at an institution of education outside their country of origin. Of this number 1.78 million (or 94%) were studying in an OECD country. The United States received most foreign students (in absolute terms) with 30 percent of the total, while the European Union, taken as a whole, enrolled 0.9 million students (47%), and Australia enrolled close to 200,000 (10%). Together, these countries hosted nearly 81 percent of all foreign students1.
In 2002/03, the first full academic year after 9/11, the United States attracted only 0.6 percent more international students than the year before, and in 2003/04 the United States suffered a 2.4 percent drop, the first such decline in more than 30 years. Although the results of the 2004/2005 Open Doors census are not out yet, a survey conducted in May 2005 by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) found that applications from foreign students to American graduate schools decreased by 5 percent this year, following a 28 percent drop in 20042.
Top 10 Leading Source Countries for the United States in 2003/2004
- India: 79,736 students (up 7%)
- China: 61,765 students (down 5%)
- Rep. of South Korea: 52,484 students (up 2%)
- Japan: 40,835 students (down 11%)
- Canada: 27,017 students (up 2%)
- Taiwan: 26,178 students (down 7%)
- Mexico: 13,329 students (up 4%)
- Turkey: 11,398 students (down 2%)
- Thailand: 8,937 students (down 11%)
- Indonesia: 8,880 students (down 15%)
Source: IIE Open Doors 2004
Dwindling numbers from the top sending countries have contributed to the decline, including the two biggest, India and China. While the total enrollment from India, the largest feeder country, increased by 7 percent overall last year, undergraduate enrollment fell by 9 percent. State Department figures reveal that between October 2003 and February 2004 the total number of F-1 student visas issued by the U.S. to Indians decreased from 3,898 to 3,801, while the total number of F class student visas issued to all nationalities has dropped from a peak of 319,517 in 2001 to 237,807 in 2004.
For the past several years the total number of Chinese enrollments in the United States has hovered around 60,000. However, in 2003/2004 total enrollments from China dropped by 5 percent, with the number of new undergraduate students declining by 20 percent.
More recent data suggests that the situation is particularly grim at the graduate level. A CGS report published in September of 2004 revealed that the number of students from China applying to graduate programs in the United States for the fall 2004 semester plummeted 45 percent compared to the previous year. The same report shows an almost 28 percent drop in graduate student applications from India. The majority of Chinese and Indian students in the United States are enrolled in graduate programs (approximately 80 percent). Although the findings of a related CGS survey found that the drop in enrollments from China and India were not as severe as the drop in applications (34 and 19 percent respectively), the numbers are still cause for serious concern in both academia and in the business world.
Further indicators of decline were found in a February 2004 General Accounting Office report (GAO-04-371)3. Between April and June 2003, the report found that it took an average of 67 days to complete background security checks required as part of the visa application process. The report’s reasoning for the these delays included increased wait times for required in-person interviews and an additional security check, known as Visas Mantis, for some visa applicants in sciences associated with technologies deemed sensitive.
Many U.S. colleges and universities have reported that international students who had been accepted to their schools couldn’t enroll because their visas were either delayed or denied. According to a recent Associated Press article4, many foreign students currenly enrolled in U.S. graduate programs in the sciences report difficulty in accessing research they need for their studies due to security restrictions in certain academic fields.
American education professionals say that countries like Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and even continental Europe, are successfully luring away students who do not want to deal with the arduous U.S. visa process and potential restrictions on research. All this is contributing to the growing perceptions abroad that international students are no longer welcome in America.
In a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal5 the president of the University of Iowa, David Skorton, wrote that “an insidious and significant threat to our innovation and competitiveness has recently become apparent: the loss of talent, temporary and permanent, due to a striking downturn in international students on American campuses.” Skorton concluded by encouraging his “colleagues in universities nationwide to develop innovative, well-documented, mutually beneficial educational and research exchanges that will attract students from Asian cultures to the U.S. We urge the federal government to move even more assertively to facilitate access for international students to these exchanges.”
The business community has been calling for change as well. The Business Roundtable, which represents 15 leading business organizations, published a report which calls for “reforming visa and immigration policies to enable the U.S. to attract and retain top science, technology, engineering and math students from around the world to study and stay to work in the U.S.6“
Turning the Tide
To stem the mounting criticism, the U.S. Department of State last month announced that the period of declining enrollments was over – for Chinese students at least. In May and June of this year the number of Chinese students applying for visas to attend higher education institutions in the United States rose by 15 percent over the same two months for the previous year. A cable released by the State Department attributed the increase to aggressive outreach efforts designed to “combat common myths, demystify the visa application process, portray the United States as the premier destination for foreign students, and reinforce the importance of bringing diversity to U.S. colleges and universities.”
Embassy officials in Beijing noted that the visa rules were amended in June of 2005 to extend the duration for certain American visas for Chinese citizens from the current six months to a year. Higher education professionals in the United Statees applauded this bit of news and hoped it was a good omen for other countries that send their students here. At the present time, the U.S. higher education industry is lobbying the administration to improve visa processing by allowing embassies more discretion to waive visa interviews and issue visitor visas for short-term language students.
In March, an amendment (Coleman/Bingaman) was attached by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to the 2006 Foreign Affairs Authorization bill. The amendment aims to reverse the decline of foreign students attending U.S. colleges by pushing for four-year multiple entry visas for both international students studying in the United States and American students studying abroad. The amendment is also pressing for timely and transparent adjudication of student visas; the refining of visa policy to focus less time and energy on people who pose no risk and more time on those who do; improving inter-agency coordination; and working to reduce the clerical burden on university administrators dealing with the SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information Systems) system.
Changes have already been applied to the Visas Mantis program. While international students studying in engineering or the sciences were previously required to undergo security checks once a year, current holders of F1 visas under Visa Mantis now only have to renew their security checks every four years7.
Although improvements have been made to the visa process for students, and China has been especially cited as an example, it still remains to be seen how effective these measures will be in reversing the downward trend. The preliminary results will not be known until late September when registration numbers for the upcoming academic year have been tallied.
However, it is important to note that while visa restrictions and fears that foreign students will not be treated well in the United States are factors that have certainly impacted negatively on international enrollments, many more countries are also competing aggressively for international students and have been luring them away from the U.S. for many years now. And why would they not compete? According to a 2002 study8 conducted by IDP Education Australia, an umbrella body promoting Australian universities abroad, estimated demand for international higher education will reach 7.2 million globally by 2025, up from 1.8 million in the year 2000.
Thirty years ago, American universities annually turned out the world’s largest number of doctorates in engineering and the physical sciences. But in 1999, Europe surpassed the U.S. by more than 2000 in this respect9. According to a paper10 published by Richard Freeman from the National Bureau of Economic Research, the European Union was awarding 40 percent more doctorates in science and engineering than the United States by the end of 2001. Worryingly for the United States, Freeman projects that by 2010 this figure will reach 100 percent. It is for this reason that academics and business leaders in the United States are becoming ever more worried by the declining numbers of foreign graduate students enrolling at U.S. engineering and physical science departments.
For some time now — at least since the early 1990s — traditional competitor nations such as Australia and the United Kingdom have been marketing their institutions of higher education more aggressively than ever before while a number of newer contenders such as Canada, Germany, and New Zealand have also begun to actively recruit students internationally.
Where the Top 10 Countries Send Their Students
|India: International Student Destinations|
|China: International Student Destinations|
|South Korea: International Student Destinations|
|Japan: International Student Destinations|
|Canada: International Student Destinations|
|Taiwan: International Student Destinations|
|Mexico: International Student Destinations|
|Turkey: International Student Destinations|
|Thailand: International Student Destinations|
|Indonesia: International Student Destinations|
- DAAD: Wissenschaft-Weltofen, German Academic Exchange Service, 2005
- IIE: Atlas of Student Mobility, IIE, 2005; Open Doors, IIE, 2004
- AEI: Year 2004 Market Indicator Data, Australian Education International
- HESA/Ukcosa: Higher Education Statistics, The Council for International Education, 2004
- MOE (China): International Students in China, Ministry of Education, 2003
- CBIE: The National Report on International Students in Canada 2002, Canadian Bureau for International Education, 2005
- MOE (Japan): Japan’s Education at a Glance, 2004
Host nations such as Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom have taken advantage of the conditions created by the visa changes implemented in the United States after 9/11 to promote their higher education institutions to international students by emphasizing their less complicated visa processes and their shorter and less expensive degree programs. France, Germany, Holland and the Scandinavian countries are now offering graduate degree programs in English. Countries in Asia such as Singapore, Malaysia and China are promoting themselves as emerging centers of excellence in education and are vying for their own slice of the international student market.
One of the central tenets of the European higher educational harmonization project, or the Bologna Process, is to make the European area more attractive to foreign students. By building a common and transparent European higher education structure of three-year bachelor’s and two-year master’s degrees and introducing more degree programs in English, Bologna signatories believe that the continent will become increasingly attractive to foreign students to the benefit of all individual member states. Indeed, if Bologna goals are met by the 2010 deadline then the European Union will have made major strides toward meeting its goals set out under the so-called Lisbon strategy. Launched in 2000, the wide-ranging Lisbon reforms aim to make the European Union “the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world” by 2010. Meanwhile, EU ministers of education have set the objective of transforming the EU into “the most-favored destination of students, scholars and researchers from other world regions.11”
There has also been significant growth in the local higher education sectors of many feeder countries such as China, India and in the Middle East. This has been largely due to the expansion of private sector institutions in many of these countries. In addition, online education and branch campuses of universities in the West are enabling students to enroll in programs from foreign universities without having to leave their home countries. All of these developments add up to more choices for students who in the past would have aspired to come to the United States for higher education.
With the exception of Canada, government student-visa figures from English-speaking competitor nations suggest that their efforts are reaping results: Australia issued 110,642 new student visas in 2003, up from 92,205 in 2001, and, although student visa issuances dropped slightly in 2004 to 110,307, officials in Australia are reasonably bullish on 2005 enrollment figures which at the end of June were up 6.5 percent on the same period last year12. The United Kingdom issued 146,538 new student visas for academic year 2003-04, up from 128,144 in 2002-03 and 121,466 in 2001-0213. In New Zealand the number of student visas issued has almost doubled since 2000-01 from 55,837 to 108,012 in 2004/05 (the 2004/05 figures represent a drop of more than 15,000 from a 2003-04 peak of 123,453)14. Comparative figures for the United States show that new student visas dropped to 237,807 in 2004 from a peak in 2001 of 319,51715. Visa trends in Canada appear to have mirrored those of its neighbor to the South: The Canadian Immigration authorities issued 56,536 student visas in 2004, down from 70,871 in 200116, although it should be noted that under regulations put in place in 2002 students registered in programs of six months or less are no longer required to obtain a student visa.
In the United States, foreign students constitute about 4 percent of total enrollments in higher education, barely one-third the percentage of international enrollments in Australia, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Patterns in transnational student mobility have been shifting to the benefit of competitor countries. As we have seen, international student enrollments in the United States went into decline last year, following several years of flat lining, or negative growth. During the same period, however, Australia and the United Kingdom experienced significant increases in their international student intake.
International students have become seasoned consumers. With more choices than ever before, these students spend hours surfing the Web or exchanging information in online chat rooms to find the best deals in higher education whether these opportunities lie at home or abroad.
Where the student ends up is contingent on a number of factors that include proximity, language, and the compatibility of education systems. The reputation of a country’s education system, affordability and the marketability of a given qualification upon graduation are also important in influencing a student’s decision to choose one country over another for higher education.
Because of these factors, international student populations vary from country to country. In the United Kingdom, for example, about half of international enrollments are at the postgraduate level. Moreover, around 40 percent of all international students in Britain come from EU member states although there has been substantial demand from China in recent years as well.
While American educators acknowledge the deleterious effects of the post-9/11 climate on international student enrollments, there is not as much made about the encroachment of viable competitors on the foreign student market and what that means for the future. What follows is a snapshot of the changes that have taken place in the market for international students.
Australia’s success in marketing itself as a higher education destination to international students is well known. It is the number three English-language destination for international students and the number four overall higher education destination after the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. Among the leading host nations, Australia has posted some of the past decade’s most impressive gains, with Chinese and Indian student numbers driving much of the strongest growth. International education has become a US$4.5 billion industry for Australia and is the nation’s ninth largest export and third biggest service export.
In 2004, there were a total of 322,776 (5.9 % on 2003) international students enrolled in the following sectors: higher education 155,798 (+11.5%), ESL 61,649 (+0.2%), vocational education 57,348 (+3.2%), school (K-12) education 28,003 (+0.6%), and other 23,978 (+1%). For students from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Hong Kong, Australia is the number one overseas study destination. Foreign students comprise approximately 14 percent of total enrollments at Australian institutions of higher education – second highest percentage worldwide after Switzerland (17%)17.
Data compiled in June by Australian Education International (AEI), the Federal Government’s body supporting international education, showed that growth in overall enrollments in 2005 is coming largely from China, South Korea and especially India. Demand from these three countries is currently offsetting the flattening or declining demand from other countries. AEI is currently expecting slower growth in new enrollments for 2005, but growth nonetheless.
Australia has probably the most coordinated and efficient international recruitment leadership among all nations looking to attract international students. It has taken Australia years of careful market cultivation to produce the impressive results that it has achieved. Because of Australia’s mature recruitment infrastructure and government commitment it remains well placed to maintain impressive growth, despite cyclical fluctuations in the market such as the slight downturn in growth now being experienced in Australia.
Indian enrollments were given a boost by the Australian government’s decision in 2003 to relax visa conditions for Indian students. These changes included significantly reducing the cost of an undergraduate student visa application by 33 percent (the fee has since been raised) and the recognition of bank loans for the first time as a valid means of financing vocational education studies in Australia. IDP Education Australia, the umbrella organization responsible for marketing Australian universities abroad, has recently called on the Australian international education sector to refocus its efforts on recruiting from India, a market it believes will offer great growth potential in the coming years. Recent research by IDP predicts 800,000 students from India will be looking to study abroad by the year 2025. IDP is looking to capture at least 10 percent of that growth.
Australian officials believe that a stronger Australian dollar, redoubled marketing efforts from competitors, and increased capacity to educate more students at home in key source countries — Singapore in particular — has contributed to the slower growth their country has experienced in the last year. There have also been accusations, especially from the Australian media, in recent months that universities have been trading academic integrity for foreign exchange. As evidence media reports have pointed out that classes are often oversubscribed and that domestic students are being crowded out.
The Australian government is active on this – proposing a National Quality Strategy for Australian Transnational Education and Training. IDP has called for a cooperative approach to managing the strategy, to ensure that the education institutions, the Commonwealth and the states are all working in tandem. A 2004 report by the marketing agency made it abundantly clear that delivering on the promise of quality, in addition to competitive pricing and employment prospects is of paramount importance in maintaining Australia’s edge.
Foreign student enrollments have been declining in Canada since 2001. According to figures published by The Monitor, Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s trade journal, foreign student flows totaled 56,529 in 2004. This represented a six percent drop from 2003 and a third year of annual declines*. Flows from Canada’s major markets in East Asia were all in decline last year, along with the rise in the value of the Canadian dollar. Most obvious among these countries was China, which saw a 27% decline in the number of students it sent in 2004; Japan, which declined by 8% and South Korea by 5%. These three countries accounted for 43% of all foreign students coming to Canada in 2004.
Total foreign enrollment from 203 countries in 2001/02 was 104,662 of which 52,235 students were enrolled in the university sector and 14,341 in the professional/vocational sector (Canadian Bureau for International Education, 2005). These figures, the latest available, represented a third year of increasing enrollments since 1999-00, and a year-on-year increase of 12.6 percent from 2000-01.Over 48 percent of international students came from Asia during that period. The largest source countries were South Korea (14,804), the United States (10,765), China (10,091), France (6,609) and Japan (4,720).
International education initiatives in Canada are coordinated at the provincial level. This has provoked criticism from a number of Canadian international education professionals who believe that the industry as a whole would benefit from federally organized initiatives. A number of successful provincial initiatives have, however, been expanded to other provinces. In 2004, for example, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) expanded a pilot project in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan that allowed international students to work after graduation for one year in their field of study. Under the expansion, students are allowed to work for an additional year after graduation and while studying they are now permitted to work off-campus, whereas before they were only allowed to work on-campus. The pilot project was recently expanded to the rest of the country, excluding the metropolitan areas of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.
A national education export consortium was established in late 2004 to promote Canadian competitiveness abroad. The Canadian Education Trade Alliance will support efforts to recruit students, develop teaching and learning expertise and develop curriculum.
A recent Canadian Bureau of International Education survey noted that 60% of international students view Canada as their top choice destination, and ranked Canada’s quality of education alongside safety as the top two reasons for studying there.
Currently, foreign students comprise around 6 percent of total enrollments in Canada. Organizations active in recruiting international students include:
- The Association of Canadian Community Colleges
- Canadian Bureau for International Education
- Canadian Education Center Network
- The Canadian Education and Trade Alliance
- The Canadian Language Council
According to the Ministry of Education, there was a 43 percent year-on-year increase in the number of international students at Chinese institutions of higher education in 2004. A record 110,844 students from 178 countries attended one of 420 institutions of higher education nationwide.
Of that figure, 6,715 were sponsored by the Chinese government. For the fifth year in succession, students from South Korea represented the single largest body of international students. The government has said that by 2007, it wants to attract 120,000 international students.
China has concluded a raft of agreements with other countries in recent years on the mutual recognition of higher education credentials As a result more foreigners have been choosing China as a study destination for higher education.
The Chinese government has also been heavily promoting the learning of the Chinese language in recent years. The thrust of these efforts has been through the establishment of Confucius (language and culture) institutes at universities and institutions in an ever-increasing number of countries around the world. This comes in addition to the exploding popularity of short-term Chinese language programs in China itself.
The Ministry of Education recently introduced a comprehensive English-language version of its website, which among other things is designed to promote study opportunities there.
While France has traditionally attracted students from its former colonies in North Africa and French-speaking West Africa, it is also becoming a popular study destination for Asian students. Half of all foreign students in France come from Africa, with Morocco and Algeria sending the most students (16 and 10 percent respectively of the total number of foreign students). China has emerged in recent years as the third top sending country with 5 percent of the total. Recruitment from India, although still small, is also growing. The number of Indian students seeking student visas to France has risen from 157 in 1998 to over 1,000 in 2004. France is also actively promoting its programs in the Arabian Gulf.
In 2002, French universities recorded 25,000 new enrollments from abroad. These new enrollments added to an existing foreign student body across all sectors of approximately 220,000 foreign students. A quarter of all doctoral students in 2002 were international students. France now ranks after the UK and Germany as Europe’s third most popular study destination for foreign students and fifth worldwide.
In 2004, EduFrance, the government agency that markets France’s education programs abroad, in a joint effort with the Ministry of Education and Agence de la Francophonie implemented new measures to attract greater numbers of international students to France. Primary among these measures was the introduction of English-language programs, especially in business studies. According to EduFrance, there are now more than 300 programs available in English.
The government hopes to make France the primary host country in Europe for foreign students and to attract talented postgraduate students, especially in business and management and scientific and technological fields.
In May 2005, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) published its annual survey, which shows that in 2003/04 over 246,000 international students were studying in German higher education institutions, representing an 8.4 percent increase over the previous year. The top sending countries to Germany included China, Poland, France, Bulgaria and Spain. Asians account for more than 25 percent of all foreign enrollments, or the second largest group after Europeans.
The government has made some changes to its immigration laws, increasing the flexibility of work/study options for international students. As of January 2005, university graduates in high-demand fields can remain in the country after completing their studies for a further year to seek employment. Student visas can then be converted into residence permits once a full-time job has been secured. The number of new immigrants authorized to enter or remain after graduation, however, is tightly monitored and limited to highly qualified professionals such as engineers, computer specialists and scientists.
Through the 1980s and up until the late 1990s a significant number of German scientists left their home country to take up positions in other developed nations. According to research from the German student association Deutsches Studentenwerk, Germany is now attracting far more young scientists from around the world than it is losing. Fifteen percent of new “junior professorships” are now held by foreign academics. Foreign students make up ten percent of the total tertiary-level student body in Germany, a huge number when compared to the United States where just four percent of the student body is international. The appeal of free tuition appears to be one of the main motivations for foreign students, with over fifty percent of those interviewed for the study admitting that financial concerns had been a key factor in choosing Germany as their study destination.
Malaysia has had a degree of success in establishing itself as a regional education hub in recent years, largely by attracting students from the South-East Asian region to low-cost franchised foreign degree programs at mainly private Malaysian institutions. In 2004, the government was upbeat about achieving its target of attracting 50,000 foreign students to study in Malaysia by the end of 2005. At the time, an estimated 40,000 foreign students were studying in the country. However, quality control issues have hit the country hard over the last year with a number of fly-by-night operators tarnishing the image of the industry as a whole. As a result enrollment numbers have dropped off and at the start of 2005 there were just 23,000 international students studying in Malaysia.
To deal with this problem Malaysia recently amended its student visa regulations to allow foreign students to work on a part-time basis. The change was enacted to deal with foreign students who enroll in private higher education institutions, with the sole intent of working in Malaysia. Identification cards are now issued to each foreign student, which allows the government to check their employment and academic status. Students who violate the conditions of their visas will have them revoked.
The Malaysian government has also increased its marketing strategies, paying particular attention to recruiting in Indonesia and the Middle East. The government runs an international education website as part of its marketing efforts.
New Zealand is an up and coming study destination for foreign students, especially those from its immediate neighborhood. With a low unemployment rate many students enroll in the country’s institutions of higher education as a stepping-stone to residency. Under recent changes to student visa rules, foreign students can now work an extra 5 hours a week while studying, and, if undertaking a program of at least 12 months, can work full-time during the summer vacation. Those who successfully complete a degree program are now permitted to stay and work in New Zealand for up to two years. They can use the additional points they earn while working to facilitate permanent residency.
However, in 2003-2004, New Zealand experienced a major setback to its recruitment strategy, largely due to the negative impact caused by the sudden closure of a number of large, high profile English-language schools. Because the schools enrolled a high percentage of Chinese students, there was heavy criticism from state-owned Chinese media outlets of education standards in New Zealand. The result was a sharp drop in enrollments from China, and new international student enrollments for the year dropped to 32,022 compared with 44,652 in 2002/03. Hence, in the spring of 2004 the government announced a $40 million international education initiative designed to promote more scholarship places, develop new satellite campuses, and promote new e-learning and off-shore programs.
Figures released by Education New Zealand in November 2004 show a slight increase in overall international student figures for 2004 in comparison to 2003:
|International Student Enrollment in New Zealand|
|Private Training Schools||6,453||6,173|
|Colleges of Education||390||649|
Singapore has been promoting itself in recent years as a regional hub for international education and in 2003 the government launched an ambitious initiative to attract students from all over Asia. That same year approximately 50,000 international students were enrolled in Singapore’s institutions of higher education.
To facilitate the recruitment of international students, Singapore has established information centers in many of the big feeder countries such as China and India. In addition, there are currently programs within Singapore to help international students get acclimated.
The main draw for students coming to Singapore is the opportunity to enroll at a number of world-class universities that have opened branch campuses in the city-state. In 1998, the government’s Economic Development Board embarked on a plan to attract at least 10 world-class institutions from around the globe to Singapore within 10 years. As a result of the campaign France’s INSEAD and the Chicago Graduate School of Business were among the first to establish permanent branch campuses. Other leading international schools have since established a presence in Singapore through collaboration with local institutions. These include: Johns Hopkins Singapore, JiaoTong University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Technical University of Munich, Technical University of Eindhoven, Stanford University and University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
Australia’s University of New South Wales was recently chosen by the government of Singapore to operate the country’s fourth multi-faculty research university. Enrollments are projected to commence in 2007. The Indian Institute of Management — Bangalore is also in the process of establishing a branch campus in Singapore.
The government maintains a website to highlight international education opportunities in Singapore.
The United Kingdom
The United Kingdom is the world’s second largest host country (after the United States). According to the Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA), the UK recorded 300,055 international higher education students in 2003/04, up from 270,090 in 2002/2003. International students make up 11 percent of all full-time higher education students and 38 percent of all full-time research students at the postgraduate level.
|Top 10 Non-EU Senders to the UK|
|United States of America||13,380||11,600||15%|
Following Australia’s example, the UK has established education networks overseas to recruit foreign students. These networks are spearheaded by the British Council. The British government now allows students to work up to 20 hours a week while they attend school, and has made it easier for them to stay on after they graduate. In 2001/02, the government achieved its recruitment target of an extra 50,000 international students two years ahead of its projected target.
The British Council in 2004 attributed record international student enrollment figures to improved immigration procedures, a successful global marketing campaign, increased efforts by the higher education sector and growth in key markets.
With the absorption of new member states into the EU, enrollments from Europe have been steadily climbing. There are currently 112,000 students from continental Europe studying in the UK. Greece sends the most students and in 2002/03 represented 9 percent of the total number of foreign student enrollments. Germany, France and Ireland also send large cohorts.
|Top 5 EU Senders to the UK|
|Republic of Ireland||14,715||13,400||10%|
In 2003-2004, India sent approximately 15,000 students to the UK a substantial increase over the previous several years. However, demand from China is by and large the greatest. It has been rising significantly since the late 1990s, overtaking Greece as the top sending country in 2001. Recent media reports, however, are predicting declines in total enrollments for 2004/05, in particular from China. As of academic year 2003/04 there were almost 50,000 Chinese students enrolled in the UK. The British Council estimates this number could double by 2010. In July, however, the UK’s university admissions service (UCAS) announced that applications from Chinese students have dropped by 23.5 percent, from Hong Kong by 8.7 percent, from Malaysia by 5 percent and from Singapore by 15.4 percent.
According to a recent statement by UniversitiesUK xix, an umbrella body representing university vice-chancellors, government plans to increase visa fees and overhaul the immigration system is putting students off applying to UK universities and depriving institutions of potential overseas income. From July 1, 2005, international students are being charged 136 percent more for a student visa. In addition, the government is proposing to abolish the right of appeal for international students who are refused a visa. This new proposal is described by Universities UK President Professor Ivor Crewe as “the third in a triple whammy of visa measures that send an entirely wrong message to the best and the brightest students around the world whom we should be encouraging to study in the UK.”
Since January 2005, immigration officials only grant visas for students enrolled at institutions that are listed in the Register of Education and Training Providers, which is compiled by the Department for Education Skills.
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates is establishing itself as regional higher education hub. Dubai-based Knowledge Village, an international learning center established in 2003 that hosts branch campuses of foreign universities, is scheduled to double in size to accommodate between 25 and 30 international universities. At full capacity, the multi-institution campus will be able to enroll approximately 36,000 students.
It is estimated that the project will take two years to complete. In addition to hosting academic service providers, professional training centers and a host of other business and consultant services, Knowledge Village also currently enrolls approximately 6,000 students in programs run by the following partner institutions:
- Birla Institute of Technology and Science (India)
- British University in Dubai (UK)
- Dublin Business School
- European University College Brussels
- Heriot Watt University
- Islamic Azad University (Iran)
- Mahatma Gandhi University Off Campus Centre (India)
- Manipal Academy of Higher Education (India)
- Middlesex University
- Royal College of Surgeons
- Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (Pakistan)
- University of Wollongong (Australia)
- University of Southern Queensland in Dubai (Australia)
Qatar is also establishing itself as a regional hub through a similar initiative to the UAE’s Knowledge Village. Doha-based Education City hosts five American branch campuses at its state of the art facilities: Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, Virginia Commonwealth University, Carnegie Mellon University, Texas A & M University, and, in recent months, Georgetown University.
*Under regulations put in place in June 2002 students registered in programs of six months or less no longer require a study permit. These measures were put into place to facilitate the movement of foreign students to Canada. While the count of recorded foreign students dropped because of this change, it does not necessarily mean that fewer foreign nationals came to Canada to study, just that the immigration authorities record fewer of them.
2. Council of Graduate Schools, March 9, 2005, Council of Graduate Schools Finds Decline in International Graduate Student Applications for the Second Consecutive Year, Washington, D.C. Viewed at: http://www.cgsnet.org/portals/0/pdf/N_pr_05IntlApp_I.pdf.
3. GAO, February 2004, Improvements Needed to Reduce Time Taken to Adjudicate Visas for Science Students and Scholars, http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04371.pdf.
7. For more see GAO report 05-198.
10. Freeman, Richard, July 2005, Does Globalization of the Scientific/Engineering Workforce Threaten U.S. Economic Leadership?, NBER Website.
15. U.S. Department of State, Classes of NonImmigrant issued Visas: Fiscal Years 1992-2004. Viewed at: http://travel.state.gov/pdf/visa_office_report_table_xvi.pdf.
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- European Commission, 2005, Mobilising the Brainpower of Europe: Enabling Universities to Make Their Full Contribution to the Lisbon Strategy. European Higher Education in a Worldwide Perspective, Brussels. Viewed at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/education/policies/2010/doc/workuniversity2005_en.pdf.
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