Much of it has been published about Covid-19’s implications on international higher education and how universities around the world might adjust to the pandemic’s developments.
The discussion has been especially heated in the United States. The United States’ originally ambivalent reaction to Covid-19, along with the uncertainty produced by the Trump administration’s foreign student visa policy, resulted in an especially high drop in international enrolment in the first year of the pandemic. Consequently, much of the current debate has centred on whether the United States can maintain its position as the most popular international study destination.
The Open Doors 2021 Fall International Student Enrollment Snapshot revealed some green shoots of development for the United States, with a 68 percent increase in international students enrolling for the first time at a US institution. However, according to Open Doors, China and India accounted for more than half of all overseas students who applied to the United States (35 percent and 18 percent of students respectively) This statistic calls into doubt the long-term viability of US schools’ recruitment methods in the post-Covid era.
According to the most recent research, ‘The State of US International Applications 2022,’ applications from China declined by roughly 26% while applications from India decreased by 21% between 2021 and 2022.
Earlier this year, a joint analysis for Unibuddy and Studyportals identified rising markets in South East Asia, Europe, and South America as the “next frontier.” The most recent research also identifies the key recruitment markets where demand for US education is increasing. In Asia, these include Pakistan (165%), Taiwan (71%), Japan (83%), and Bangladesh (58 percent ). This analysis also identifies a large concentration of growth for US institutions across Europe, such as the Czech Republic (154%), the Netherlands (132%), and Portugal (133%).
The new research also includes personal insights from BridgeU foreign school counsellors, who provided their perspectives on why their students chose a US higher education, as well as their own experiences navigating the US admission process. The perspectives of these pupils attest to the rich cultural, academic, and geographical diversity of foreign school students. They also emphasise the significance of US universities adopting a highly adaptable, localised strategy for international student enrollment.
For example, while one counsellor in Brazil believed that US universities provided generous financial aid packages to her students, other counsellors in Western Europe told us that the rising cost of a US education is prompting their students to consider destinations such as Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and Japan.
Effective diversification will necessitate US admissions offices to look beyond macro-trends and global mobility statistics and instead focus on meeting international students where they are, both metaphorically and literally. True diversity requires an examination of the cultural surroundings, academic aims, and personal aspirations of students in specific cities and towns.
Identifying the specific needs of college counsellors and students allows US universities to enrol their best-fit candidates while also developing a long-term recruitment strategy that increases intellectual and cultural diversity on their campus.
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