Visa Crunch

Reports Predict Significant Growth In International Admissions Until 2030

According to new research from market intelligence firm HolonIQ, the global international education business is positioned not only for recovery from pandemic losses but also for significant expansion.

According to the firm, by 2030, 8 million international students will be enrolled in foreign higher education institutions, which is 3 million more than were abroad in 2019, and their overall spending will be more than double what it was before the pandemic.

According to the HolonIQ survey, there is a newfound recognition of the value of international education among the general public:

“The pandemic brought international education out into the public discourse from once being considered a niche phenomenon to now being better understood by the general public as a critical component of higher education and skilled workforce supply, as well as a significant economic pillar for many of the world’s major economies.”

HolonIQ’s forecasts are based on their “persistent high dimension forecasting model.” This model aims to address challenges caused by the dispersion of proven worldwide enrolment and market sizing data tools across multiple organisations (e.g., UNESCO and individual governments). According to HolonIQ, this dissemination has created “major problems when comparing apples to apples.”

Total foreign student spending in 2019 was predicted to be USD$196 billion, which included tuition, housing, food, retail, insurance, technology, and transportation. According to HolonIQ, this figure will climb to $433 billion by 2030.

Although HolonIQ considers 8 million students enrolled in foreign universities to be the most likely scenario for 2030, the business also considers 9 million students to be a “possible” alternative.

The “worst-case” situation they anticipate is 6 million pupils enrolled by 2030. Their projections are based on an examination of UNESCO, OECD, Project Atlas, Open Doors, NAFSA, and other government websites for their Global Flows Project.

Africa and Asia will have by far the largest demand. For the time being, students seeking top-ranked colleges will frequently pick countries such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Canada, which host more than half of the universities listed in Times Higher Education’s Top 200 higher education institutions.

Over the course of the pandemic, HolonIQ’s survey programme demonstrated steadily increasing optimism among university workers and those working with technology and service platforms.

Whereas half of the respondents predicted reduced growth in international enrollments over the next 5–10 years in April 2021, that gloomy proportion had shrunk to 10% by January 2022. Two-thirds projected faster growth or “brief bursts above norms” in January 2022, while the remaining 26 per cent expected enrolment trends to return to normal levels.

However, HolonIQ is not the only organisation interested in the future of international education and what it will take for schools to attract kids who have grown up in the midst of the pandemic.

For example, World Education Services (WES) hosted a social media discussion in December 2021 where worldwide higher education thought leaders explored the significance of data from the 2021 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange.

Participants’ key advice (intended for US institutions yet widely applicable outside of the US) included:

  • “Adopting a holistic, flexible approach to admissions policies by adjusting language requirements, extending application deadlines, waiving fees, and introducing test-optional or test-flexible policies.”
  • [Understanding that] experiential learning (such as hands-on training programmes and pre-and post-graduation work placements) is an invaluable part of the learning process—and an important draw for international students.”
  • [Making use of] “the latest educational technologies to increase awareness among prospective international students even before they decide where to apply.”
  • Leveraging the power of alumni because students are increasingly intent on hearing from former students about what it’s like to study at an institution.
  • “Cultivating] important relationships in target countries, such as partnerships with local higher education institutions, organisations working with high school students, and other education-focused organizations and companies.”

Meanwhile, NAFSA went to international education professionals last month for predictions about the future; in this case, the 11 international educators concentrated on the short term (2022). Here are some of the suggestions they made:

  • “Mobility trends will continue to shift as students who desire to pursue degrees in English have more opportunities in non-English-speaking countries … With thousands of new English-medium programs around the world, there are fresh opportunities for pursuing strategic institutional partnerships and exchange programmes.” — Lindsay Addington, Senior strategic engagement executive, Duolingo
  • “2022 and beyond will call for a shift away from a front-loaded paradigm of recruitment, admissions, enrollment, and entry, to one where international students arrive and thrive. This shift is critical because students, too, are increasingly asking how their future institutions and host countries will serve them and what sorts of opportunities will be available to them.” — Founder, Rajika Bhandari Advisors; author, America Calling: A Foreign Student in a Country of Possibility
  • “The number of degree-seeking international students (most notably from China) opting to complete degrees in the United States will, at best, remain flat or, more likely, decline in the ensuing years. This new reality will prompt more US public universities to consider international dual degrees and joint institutes where the overseas students spend their entire 4 years, or perhaps 3 of the 4 years, earning their international degree in situ.” — William I. Brustein, former vice president for global strategies and international affairs; Eberly Family Distinguished Professor of History, West Virginia University
  • “Will students still travel for degrees? Of course. But they may also be pickier about where they will go and how far. Prestige will continue to draw students, and talent will move. But I think we can also expect that students may contemplate more intra-regional moves, and this provides an opportunity for more institutions in the Global East and Global South to grow.” — Jane Gatewood, Vice provost for global engagement, University of Rochester

According to HolonIQ predictions, as well as the insights provided by prominent international educators and experts to WES and NAFSA, it becomes evident that chances for recruiting international students abound this year and beyond. It is also evident that new thinking, platforms, collaborations, and markets must be integrated into existing strategies in order to capitalise on these prospects.

Legal Disclaimer: This article is provided for information purposes only.

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